Due to visa complications, Philadelphia Union striker Cory Burke won’t suit up for the Eastern Conference leaders for at least three months.
But that doesn’t mean Philadelphia has forgotten about the 27-year-old forward. Not at all.
After scoring an 11th-minute opener Saturday night against the New England Revolution, center back Jack Elliott celebrated by running to the Union’s bench and holding up Burke’s No. 19 jersey.
“It’s confusing for them. Cory sent a pretty heartfelt message to the group on our little group app that we have and share. I think it hit with a lot of guys and you can tell by a lot of the responses," said head coach Jim Curtin after the match. "He’s with us in a way. He wants to be here and the guys feel his absence. They wanted to do something special for him and you saw that with the tribute when we scored. Life has its highs and lows. He’s a great kid and we want him back as soon as possible.”
The news was revealed this past Friday by Union sporting director Ernst Tanner, who said he feels “really sorry for the boy.”
"I can assure you he didn't do any crimes over there," Tanner said. "It's a visa issue. Government can sometimes be really tricky."
In Burke’s absence, Philadelphia has often deployed offseason signing Kacper Przybylko at center forward. Head coach Jim Curtin said they also have Sergio Santos, another offseason signing, returning from injury soon.
"Cory's been one of our top strikers so we miss him on the field," Curtin said. "Hopefully everything can get resolved as quickly as possible, but we do recognize it's going to be some time without him, which is hard, but also that presented an opportunity for Kacper, who stepped up.”
Burke had two goals through seven games this year, plus another 10 in 2018. Even though he won’t be back until August, his team has clearly not gone into a stage of out of sight, out of mind.