Sounders FC defender Marc Burch has seen stadiums around Major League Soccer.
A veteran of six seasons with the LA Galaxy, Columbus Crew and DC United, has played for crowds at the Home Depot Center, Crew Stadium and RFK Stadium and played away at all the other stadiums in the league.
Never, though, had he seen anything like the atmosphere at CenturyLink Field when he made his Sounders FC MLS debut on Saturday in a 3-1 win over Toronto FC.
“The crowd was crazy. It felt like a big event,” said Burch, 27. “It was the best atmosphere I’ve ever played in.”
Burch joined the Sounders in the off-season through the Re-Entry Draft to add depth to the left back position and provide competition for incumbent starter Leo Gonzalez.
Coming back from off-season toe surgery, Burch was steady throughout preseason, but was allowed some breaks to ease him back into fitness.
With Gonzalez playing in both CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal matches against Santos Laguna, that left Burch to start against Toronto in the MLS regular season opener for Seattle. The move paid off for head coach Sigi Schmid, as Burch was solid defensively and added an assist on the other end, setting up David Estrada’s second goal on the way to a hat trick.
“He’s been very consistent. He’s a good passer of the ball. He’s steady with the ball,” Schmid said. ‘He’s not afraid to stick a tackle, as you saw early on in that game. His calmness is something that showed through.”
He may have looked calm, but he was as excited as anyone about getting onto the field on Saturday. Though he only played the final minutes of the first leg of Seattle’s CCL loss to Santos Laguna, he still felt the sting of the defeat after Seattle fell 7-3 on aggregate against the Mexican club.
That loss put a charge into the Sounders before their regular season opener.
“There was definitely a fire underneath everybody, realizing what just happened and knowing that we were coming home to prove to everybody that’s not the team that we are,” Burch said. “We bounced back the right way and we showed how we can perform all year.”
It was just one game on the MLS calendar, but the inclusion of Burch and Patrick Ianni on the defensive line for the Sounders showed Seattle’s depth.
For his part, Burch hopes to fight for a starting spot each week.
“I’ll be pushing him as hard as he can go or I’ll be stepping in when he needs me,” he said. “I just hope I can step in and perform the way he wants me to.”
With the welcome to the club he received Saturday night, how could he want anything other than playing every day?