Minnesota United is expected to re-sign inured left back Marc Burch for the 2018 season, according to a Jeff Rueter tweet. Burch, who would have become a free agent at season’s end, has been out since June after undergoing bilateral sports hernia surgery.
BREAKING: #MNUFC has re-signed Marc Burch for 2018. The 33 y.o. LB was due to hit free agency. Expect a raise from his current $135k salary.— Jeff Rueter (@jeffrueter) August 3, 2017
Burch, a 33-yeard old veteran of five MLS squads, joined the Loons in a late March trade with Colorado that sent Mohammed Saeid and Josh Gatt to the Rapids for Burch and Sam Cronin. He immediately nailed down the left back position, and helped to stabilize a defense that had been giving up goals at a record-setting pace during the first three games of the season.
It appears that Burch had been playing through the injury for a while, as he sat out several training sessions before the decision was made to have him see a specialist in June. Since his departure, Minnesota has experimented with several players to fill the vacant spot, including Kevin Venegas (who played on the right while Jerome Thiesson moved to the left), and Ismaila Jome.
When news of Burch’s surgery first broke, there was speculation that his career might be all but finished at Minnesota. With recovery time estimated at two to three months, and both free agency and a possible retirement looming, it was unclear whether or not Loons fans would see much if any of the veteran going forward. However, the team has said that Burch could be ready to play again by the end of August, and now it is official that he is part of the organization’s plans for 2018 as well. Burch can expect a bump to his $135,000 salary, according to Rueter.
This signing would appear to be good news for Loons fans. With over 200 games of MLS experience, Burch brings stability to the back line that could open next season with its back five already In place – quite a luxury when you consider the unknowns and uncontrolled variables that marred the beginning of 2017. Burch does not have blinding speed, but his positioning and ability to read the game generally allow him to stifle attacks. In addition to his defensive presence, furthermore, he has the capacity to get forward and is known for the quality of service he brings from the left side as a natural left footer.
The biggest downside to the Burch signing is age. At 33, he isn’t a long term solution at left back and of course there is always the chance of further injuries. Perhaps the biggest variable here is the extent to which he can recover from his surgery. I would like to take the extension as a sign that his recovery is going particularly well. However, the contract extension was signed before the surgery took place, according to Rueter. If the surgery makes him stronger, we could see a Burch that is a step above the player who was forced to play through pain throughout his nine games at Minnesota. If his recovery is slow or more complicated, then the signing will merely lend us some depth as the team continues its search for the left back of the present and future.