TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Signing
UPDATE (Nov. 21) — The New York Red Bulls have signed free agent striker Cory Burke to a two-year MLS contract with an option for 2025, the club announced Thursday.
Burke, a Jamaican international, joins NYRB after playing five seasons for the Philadelphia Union, making 93 MLS appearances and recording 25 goals and eight assists. He appeared seven times in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the Union, most notably scoring a game-clinching goal in their 3-1 victory against New York City FC in the 2022 MLS Eastern Conference Final.
“We are very happy to have Cory join our club,” said NYRB's head of sport Jochen Schneider in a release. “He is a strong striker that has a lot of experience in MLS and knows our playing style very well and we are looking forward to having him with us.”
Burke echoed Schneider's thoughts on familiarity with the Red Bulls style of play.
"You know when playing against the Red Bulls, it is similar tools to the way I play. They like to press and that is a big part of my game and I think to come here is going to be really good for me to play with these guys. I like to press the ball and close the space down and they get a lot of chances by pressing the ball."
ORIGINAL (Nov. 17) — The New York Red Bulls are finalizing a deal to sign Jamaica international forward Cory Burke, sources confirm to MLSsoccer.com.
The deal will be for two seasons with a club option for 2025.
Burke, who turns 31 in the winter, has spent his entire MLS career with the Philadelphia Union. He just wrapped up his most efficient season, with seven goals and five assists in 1,177 minutes. He has mostly been a rotation player during his time with the club, but had a stint in 2018 where he was the first choice center forward. Burke has 25 goals and eight assists in 93 career MLS appearances (38 starts). He has seven goals in 27 appearances with the Jamaican national team.
The Union declined Burke’s 2023 contract option, making him a free agent. The Red Bulls swooped in and got a deal agreed early in free agency. Burke was a key squad player in their run to MLS Cup 2022, where they lost to LAFC on penalties, and made a big impact off the bench throughout their Audi MLS Cup Playoffs run.
The move could open up another pathway to time for US youth international and homegrown Quinn Sullivan, who is already in the first team. Philly also have a few highly-rated forward talents breaking through the second team, like Venezuelan youth international Jose Riasco and academy product Nelson Pierre, so the club have plenty of options to replace Burke's minutes behind starters Mikael Uhre and Julian Carranza.
A rare move by Red Bulls
The Red Bulls signing Burke is a surprise, as the club have rarely even featured players over 26 in the last few years, let alone sign a player who already turned 30. The Red Bull ethos is to build around young players, and the club had just two players over 26 play minutes: Aaron Long and Ryan Meara, the latter of which made one start. Under head coach Gerhard Struber, the philosophy has been further heightened.
RBNY signed David Jensen in 2020 (then 28), but the goalkeeper seldom played. Marc Rzatkowski in 2019 (then 29) is the best example of the last time the club made a significant addition over the age of 26.
What about Elias Manoel?
The move also doesn’t shut the door on a potential return for Brazilian forward Elias Manoel. Sources tell MLSsoccer.com that RBNY remain in talks with Gremio over a permanent transfer. The Red Bulls declined Manoel’s purchase option with the hope of negotiating it down and reaching a new agreement with the Brazilian club.
Manoel, who turns 21 at the end of the month, had two goals and one assist in 364 MLS minutes after arriving in the fall. He immediately won the starting job ahead of the likes of Patryk Klimala, Tom Barlow and others.
Klimala, a Designated Player, and Barlow remain on the roster.
Burke’s signing is the first move in free agency to be reported and could be the first signing made official after free agency opened on Wednesday at 1 pm ET.