TUKWILA — Following the 2011 season, D.C. United decided that Marc Burch wasn’t a part of its future.
Tonight, Burch hopes to make his former team pay for that decision when Sounders FC plays United at RFK Stadium.
“I want to prove that I’ve gone to a better team and made an impact on an organization that’s much better,” said Burch, who joined Sounders FC in the offseason. “My time there was good, but it was time for me to break off, and I think I’ve taken a step in the right direction by coming here to Seattle.”
Burch, who has started all three games at left back for Seattle this season, spent five seasons with D.C., most of them as a starter, and thought he had built a pretty strong resume. But rather than keep Burch around, United instead declined his option for 2012. Because of his veteran status, Burch went through the MLS re-entry draft, and Seattle traded up to the top spot to take him.
Despite a solid run in D.C. Burch wasn’t shocked his former team let him go given the turnover he had seen there in recent years as United has gone through a four-year playoff drought.
“With the turnover that happens in D.C. — every year there are five, six, seven guys that are out and five, six, seven that are in — nothing’s surprising. I don’t think I ever felt like I was safe. If I was starting or playing, it didn’t matter, I never knew if I was going to be there the next year.”
So Burch ended up in Seattle, where after playing behind Leo Gonzalez in the preseason and Seattle’s CONCACAF Champions League games, he took over the starting job for the regular season opener. Burch’s defending has been solid, and he also gets involved on the attack, providing good long-ball service, one of which led to a goal in Seattle’s season-opening win.
Burch may not have been thrilled with the way things ended in D.C., but he couldn’t be happier with where he ended up.
“There are definitely a lot worse places you can be,” he said. “I don’t think the guys here really realize how good it is here. This is the best organization to come to. I’m lucky to be here.”
While Burch is excited to play his former team and prove them wrong for letting him go, both he and Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid know that revenge can’t be the main motivating factor heading into the game.
“Sometimes you can be overly hyped up when you run into that situation, but Marc’s a pretty calm guy, so I’m sure he’ll be OK with it,” Schmid said. “The opportunity to play against your old team is something you always look forward to.”
And assuming Burch is in the starting lineup tonight — he and Gonzalez were neck-and-neck for the starting job in the preseason, so a change at any time wouldn’t be a surprise — he will have motivation beyond showing up his former team.
In last week’s loss to San Jose, the only goal came on a penalty kick which was the result of a Burch foul. The call was debatable, but Burch said it was “my fault, 100 percent,” for allowing San Jose’s Steven Lenhart to bait him into the foul.
“I’ve already forgotten about it,” Burch said. ” … It’s over and done with and it won’t happen again for sure.”
Last week’s miscue may already be a distant memory for Burch, but a messy departure from his former team will still be on his mind tonight.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.