D.C. United defender Marc Burch’s 2011 campaign certainly hasn’t played out in ideal fashion.
After failing a fitness test before a 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders back on May 4, Burch lost his starting spot to Daniel Woolard. Woolard, who only had 12 games of MLS experience heading into the season, has kept a firm grip on the position since.
Burch spent most of the summer on the sidelines, unable to overcome the hamstring strain until late July. And with his injury problems finally in the past, the 27-year-old is working hard and focused on contributing when DC coach Ben Olsen calls on him.
“I don’t have any injuries, feeling healthy, getting fit and ready for my opportunity whenever it comes,” Burch told MLSsoccer.com over the phone. “Right now, I’m trying to prove that I can play every single day.”
Up until that point in May, Burch was the first-choice left back for DC, starting the first seven games of the season.
But while he missed time and suffered setbacks with the injury, Woolard helped lock down opposing attacks, giving the DC coaching staff little reason to make a change. With that in mind, Burch’s mentality is simple: to work hard and be prepared to do the most he can when he’s on the field.
“I realize I’m not going to be starting most games, but if [Olsen] needs me, I’m just going to be ready,” he said. “Throughout the week I’m training, if it’s 20 minutes, 45, whatever I get, that’s what I’m training for.”
And recently, Olsen has given Burch chances off the bench, including in last weekend’s 3-0 win over Chivas USA. However, he’s been getting time at left midfield when DC have a lead, providing support on that side of the pitch.
“[Ben] knows I can do the work defensively so it’s giving Daniel a bit of support so he doesn’t have people running at him late at the end of the game,” Burch said of his role.
“But I usually try to also get forward when I play outside back, so it’s also trying to add a little bit to the attack, not to run-and-gun forward, but enough attack where I can keep possession, help out the team and shore up the defense when we have a lead.”
With a busy end to the regular season for DC, more and more opportunities will likely come Burch’s way – and he’ll be prepared to make the most out of them.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. You can follow him on Twitter @travismclark.