Sigi Schmid has said numerous times throughout his years of coaching that to make a good team you need people to play the piano and people to carry the piano. In other words, you need players who can be dynamic and provide the measurable – like goalscoring – and you need players to do the difficult work to set them up.
For Marc Burch, his MLS career has shown the transition from piano player to piano carrier.
In 2005, Burch helped the Terrapins to the College Cup, scoring the game-winning goal off a 25-yard free kick to top New Mexico in the final.
That propelled him into being selected 24th overall in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft by the LA Galaxy, who sent him to the Columbus Crew in a trade in July. There, he started his transition to left back under Schmid.
For a player that spent the majority of his life in the more glamorous scoring positions, it wasn’t always the easiest transition.
“I was really young,” Burch said. “It was just a learning process about being in the league. I was just getting used to the league and learning how to be a professional.”
Part of that learning process meant that he would be traded twice in his first year as a professional. After he was acquired by Schmid and the Crew, he finished out that season, then was traded to DC United, where he has since completed the transition to left back and played for the next five seasons.
Now, he will restart his career in Seattle, as the Sounders announced Tuesday that they had agreed to contract terms and signed Burch to fight Leo Gonzalez for minutes at left back after they selected him in Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft last month.
A veteran of 103 regular season appearances in six MLS seasons, Burch now brings depth and flare to the defense for Seattle as they restructure their defense for the 2012 season.
“My first few years in the league, I was learning how to defend and have my mind on defending,” said Burch, 27. “Defense is always first, but I’d like to think I can add to the attack and help create some chances – whether that’s with a long ball, switching the ball, playing to the forward’s feet, overlapping … whatever I can do.”
Adding to Burch’s excitement about joining the Sounders is his intimate knowledge of the club and their style of play.
He’s seen them on television plenty of times, but also has played against Seattle three times in the club’s three years, including in the 2009 US Open Cup final.
It was his second straight Open Cup final, after DC topped the Charleston Battery to win the 2008 championship, and it comes in a tournament that Burch, like the Sounders, takes a lot of pride in.
“If you want to get into the big tournament, winning the Open Cup is a big thing. Winning a championship during the year is a big thing and I’ve always taken it seriously,” Burch said. “Winning is a mentality and if you can win tournaments like that, you’re a winning club. When we won the Open Cup it was a big deal. I’m looking forward to that and the Champions League.”
In addition to their pride in the success in all competitions, Burch can’t wait to join the open, attacking style that Seattle plays.
“I’ve seen how Seattle plays and they’re always tough to play against when they create numbers on the outside. That’s Sigi’s style and it works really well with Seattle,” he said. “Knowing that’s how they play, I’m really happy to be joining the team and hopefully I can add as much as I can to it.”
While that may offer a glimpse of the piano player in his past, Burch makes clear that he intends to do the dirty work in his defensive role, first and foremost.
“I fight and battle for every ball on every play, for every minute of the game,” he said. “I want to be a role player and if I can stand out, I will stand out when I can.”
Burch and the Sounders open the 2012 season on March 7 in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals at CenturyLink Field against Mexico’s Santos Laguna.