Louisville City FC lost a key role player this offseason in Bryan Burke. It came as more of a shock for the fans than it did for his City teammates and coach James O’ Connor. O’Connor said in an interview he always knew Burke was a 1 year player as he will seek an MLS contract. But is Bryan Burke good enough for MLS?
Check his resume. Burke is already a championship-caliber player, having won the league and playoff championship with Orlando City in 2013. When Orlando released him just before their MLS move, many put a red flag up that they didn’t take him to the next level, but his impressive work at LCFC may have turned a few heads. Teams always need a good wing defender who can play a strong cross in or even join the attack on the wing, which Burke does really well. He put up impressive offensive numbers while playing very solid defense in 2015. He is a proven goal scorer, having scored at least once in each of his USL seasons while adding plenty of assists. James O’ Connor said in an interview that “It was when I played against Burke while he was at LA Blues that I first noticed him. I really liked his attacking prowess and his aerobic ability. He will always pose an attacking threat as he has fantastic ability to get up and down the field. We had to be patient, but we are thrilled that we are going to have him here in Louisville.”
So with a player with Burke’s ability, who wouldn’t want him? The question is, where would he best fit in MLS, or is he going to work on his game more and then make the jump?
Los Angeles Galaxy just released Omar Gonzalez, so LA could be a destination for Burke should he pursue it. However it is unlikely he will make a move there, as LA Galaxy are usually big spenders. His best option may be to pursue contracts from Chicago Fire, Real Salt Lake, Philadelphia Union, or Colorado Rapids. These teams all lack an attacking style defender who is still great at stopping a striker from getting the better of them on the attack. He could even go back to Orlando City, having been there previously and knowing the structure of their program. Chicago could offer the most support, as many Louisvillians frequent the Chicago Fire games and former teammate Matt Fondy having played for them. Real Salt Lake and Philadelphia Union are in need of more attacking player, so an attack-oriented defender may prove to be beneficial for them in the coming season.
Bryan Burke signed with the NASL side Jacksonville Armada on December 28, 2015 so you can expect him to have an immediate impact on the team either off the bench as a sub or as a starter. Jacksonville finished last in the NASL last season with just 31 points. This is a huge signing for the Armada, who were in desperate need for a quality defender who could also help them in the attack. Having conceded 31 goals and only scored 18 it was no surprise they wanted to shore things up at the back with a great defender like Burke. Burke made a good decision in having played in the USL and now going up to tier 2 could prove to help him make the jump to MLS. The NASL is no pushover league; the competition is very intense. The NASL is a smaller League than the USL, so Burke may have better chance to shine as a league star. If Burke continues his form like he did at Louisville City FC, the Jacksonville Armada should see a vast improvement in their defense and attacking strength with Burke on the field.
Burke is a hard worker and any team would benefit with him on the roster. He is a top notch defender and very good attacking on the wings so be prepared for him to make any team better. Wherever, he goes he can always expect to find a home back here in Louisville or when he comes to town or near town to play. Just know wherever you go, Bryan, the people of Louisville support you!