CHESTER, Pa. — Player absences continue to mount for the Philadelphia Union with the announcement on Friday that Jamaican international Cory Burke will be out for an extended period of time due to work visa issues.
Burke, who was tied for the team lead with 10 goals in his first season in after being promoted from USL affiliate Bethlehem Steel FC last year, missed the Union's last two games due to undisclosed personal reasons.
Sporting Director Ernst Tanner revealed Friday that it was due to work visa issues.
"Cory is down in Jamaica to do his visa process and unfortunately it turned out he will not be coming back before three month, maybe even longer, which means that he is not available for the rest of the season due to personal issues," Tanner said. "It's a little bit unlucky, I feel really sorry for the boy, but you know with these processes you don't have everything in your control.”
Tanner said the club learned of the situation on Wednesday, but was waiting to clarify the issue before announcing it after training on Friday .
"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."
The situation will not only keep Burke out of the Union lineup, but will prevent him from representing his country in all but the first group game of the Concacaf Gold Cup in June. Jamaica will play Honduras in Kingston on June 17 before coming to the US for games at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston against El Salvador and against Curacao at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. Should they advance, the remaining matches are all in US cities.
Burke has a pair of goals in five starts and seven appearances this season, but in his absence Polish attacker Kacper Przybylko has started the past two games and scored a goal in each.
"(Cory's) been one of our top strikers so we miss him on the field," head coach Jim Curtin said on Friday. "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 (Przybylko), who stepped up. We have Sergio Santos coming back (from injury) and he's looked really good in training.”
Curtin also reported on Friday that rookie goalkeeper Matt Freese will miss 4-6 weeks with an oblique injury. Freese injured himself making a save in the 10th minute against FC Cincinnati on Wednesday and was rushed to the hospital after leaving the game a half hour later. The 20-year-old was making his second straight start after spelling Andre Blake on April 20 when the Jamaican international suffered a groin injury in the game against Montreal Impact.
"There was some concern that possibly it could have been a spleen that was involved," Curtin said. "That was not the case, which is the good news. The bad news is it was a partially torn oblique muscle that will put him out for four to six weeks.”
U.S. youth international defender Mark McKenzie is also still out of action after his emergency appendectomy on the eve of the Impact game. He had a meeting with his doctor on Thursday and Curtin said he hopes to have the 20-year-old homegrown back in training in 10-14 days.
"He obviously has an eye on the U20s as well and being part of that group (for the U20 World Cup) so it's important that he heals as quickly as possible, but also in a smart way, in a safe way," Curtin said.