MLS East leaders Philadelphia Union dealt duel blows

The MLS Eastern Conference leading Philadelphia Union will apparently be without Corey Burke and Matt Freeze for over a month, or longer.

Jim Curtin has slowly built the Philadelphia Union into a formidable MLS squad over the years. The progression from young team to playoff contenders has taken a couple of seasons, but now he looks to have a real contender. The Union top the MLS Eastern Conference table after all.

Keeping that spot will get tougher in the next couple of months, however. Corey Burke and Matt Freeze are both going to miss a month or more of game action.

The Philadelphia Union released a statement regarding the playing status of Burke. Burke is currently in Jamaica and will be unable to return because of a Visa issue. It is expected the situation takes at least a few months to resolve.

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Sporting Director Ernst Tanner’s stated Burke’s absence is not due to any pending legal issues in either country and is safe with family. Tanner added that Burke will not occupy a roster spot during this period and that additions to the team are an option.

The timeline for resolving issues means that Burke’s status for Jamaica’s Gold Cup roster is in jeopardy. Going from a P1 Visa to a Green Card is something that MLS league offices deal with regularly. Perhaps Burke and the Union can sort this issue before it cost them many more games.

Similarly, the Union’s depth will be tested as Matt Freeze is also going to unavailable for selection for four to six weeks.

Starting All-Star keeper Andre Blake is already on the injury list, so Carlos Coronel will likely man the gloves again. He did well as a substitute, keeping a clean sheet against FC Cincinnati the first time out.

Defender Mark McKenzie is still recovering from an appendectomy and is out for another couple of games. The midfield corps is short of some bodies as well with Marco Fabian and Anthony Fontana both missing the 6-1 victory over the New England Revolution at the weekend, continuing their absences through injury.

It has been an excellent recent run for the Union. They still sit atop the East after the weekend’s fixtures. But the absences are piling up, with Burke the most concerning of the lot. Although goals have not been a problem for Curtin’s side, his managerial acumen must come to the fore in the coming months without one of the star players.

The Union will undoubtedly be tested leading into the heat of summer. If they can handle the obstacles and host a playoff game, Curtin will be topping many Manager of the Year ballots.