Sports

Reggae Boy Cory Burke on a mission

BY IAN BURNETT
Sport Editor

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

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EDISON, New Jersey —Reggae Boy Cory Burke is a man on a mission.

And his meteoric rise in the ranks of the Philadelphia Union first team is stunning, to say the least.

Not only has the former Rivoli United frontman usurped the more established first-team strikers Jay Simpson and C J Sapong since his graduation to the first team last December. his impressive performances have left the Philadelphia Union head coach with a throbbing headache.

Simpson and Sapong command salaries nearly 10 times that of Burke, who spent two seasons with the Union's B outfit, Bethlehem Steel in the United Soccer League, where he registered 13 goals — four in his first season and nine the following year.

So far this season the 26-year-old Burke has netted 11 goals in all competitions, including eight in Major League Soccer, more than twice that of Simpson and Sapong put together.

In the semi-finals of the Lamar Hunt Knockout competition, he hit two of his three total goals to help a team to the final slated for September 26 against Houston in Texas.

He is enjoying his rich vein of form and he's hoping that it continues for some time yet.

“The season has been great so far and I'm looking to build on what I already did so next season I can have a better contract and develop even more on what I'm doing this season,” Burke told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

The man who spent three seasons at Rivoli United in Jamaica's Red Stripe Premier League and scored 25 goals, had high praises for compatriot, and Union outstanding goalkeeper Andre Blake.

“Well, from playing with the Bethlehem I would train with the Union first team sometimes and I always communicated with Andre because he's like a brother back home, and he motivates me and is always telling me the right stuff like to stay focused and always encouraging me to do my best.”

Meanwhile, Burke, who helped Jamaica to the runners-up position in the Concacaf Gold Cup last year, having played in five matches, isn't surprised by his fine form in the higher Major League Soccer.

“I wouldn't say I'm surprised because I believe in myself and what I can do; I believe in the Lord and everything comes from there. I always work hard and, with the quality players that I have around me, I know once I put myself in the right positions then my teammates, players like Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin and Fafa Picault can supply me and I know I'm capable of scoring goals, so once I got quality players to give me quality service then I know I will get a lot of goals,” he said.

He also credited the quality around him, as well as his own quality for the ease with which he has acclimatised to the higher division.

“I wouldn't say tougher, but it is just better quality. I got to have the right mindset, approach it the right way on and off the pitch and take it from there.”

Now he hopes to take his razor-sharp form into this weekend's pair of games, the first a training match against Ecuador on Friday inside the Red Bull Arena at 7:00 pm, and then in the Concacaf Nations League opener against the Cayman Islands inside the National Stadium, also at 7:00 pm next Monday.

“I'm still keeping the focus and hope to keep doing what I'm doing for my club and the national team or more. It is always a pleasure to play for my country, so whenever I get the opportunity to I always try to give my best and I know that I'm in a good run of form. so I just going to keep on doing what I'm doing back in my club, get goals and help the team to win games,” said the 6'4” player, who has had 10 caps and two goals for the Reggae Boyz.

In three short years playing professionally in the US, Burke has no doubt that he's now at a much higher level.

“From Rivoli I was doing pretty well in my first season, but now I'm in a different class because the Jamaican league and the league in America are different. It is quicker here and everything is more technical, so I learnt a lot since I've been here. The quality of the surfaces and the coaching staff and everything on and off the pitch is more than everyone expected,” he ended.

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