(Editorial) – The Colorado Rapids have had a spectacular season so far. They lead the Supporter’s Shield standings coming out of the Copa America Centenario break. Every single one of their off-season acquisitions has contributed positively. The Rapids boast the number one defense in Major League Soccer, having conceded only 11 goals in 15 games. While the leaders on this team have gotten praise, the unsung Marc Burch is quietly having a solid season. Let’s break it down.
Unsung Marc Burch Is Having A Good Season With Colorado
The 32-year-old left back has started 12 of 15 league games this season, and been on the field for only seven goals conceded. He’s not the most offensive outside back on the Rapids roster (one assist, one shot this year), but he’s very defensively sound. When he does choose to go forward into the attack, something good usually happens. Very rarely does something bad happen. The Rapids have yet to concede a goal where Burch was primarily at fault on the play.
Burch is second on the team in clearances with 31. Axel Sjöberg leads the team with 66. For a 6’1″ outside back who’s on the same team as Bobby Burling, that’s impressive. He’s also second on the team in recoveries with 38, behind Mekeil Williams with 40. Burch plays it safe and clears the line when he has to. He also tracks back when needed to break up the play when he’s caught up field.
On the offensive side of the ball, he leads Rapids defenders with 11 key passes (a pass that leads to a shot on goal). That’s good for third on the team overall. However, Burch isn’t the fastest outside back on the Rapids. Williams and Marlon Hairston are certainly faster and more prone to get forward and overlap with their midfield partner. While he has spent some time at center back, even Eric Miller is probably a more offensive fullback by nature than Burch.
The thing about Burch is that he’s extremely efficient on both sides of the ball. On the left is Burch’s MLSSoccer.com Chalkboard for the May 7th match against Real Salt Lake. On the right is the same for the May 21st game at Seattle Sounders.
These were two very different matches. The Rapids outperformed RSL, controlling possession and chance creation. At Seattle, the Rapids got a goal on a set piece at the end of the first half and defended the lead for much of the second half.
We see that Burch is very active defensively in and around the penalty area. It’s clear he doesn’t get forward as often as the average MLS full back, nor does he get as far forward.
When Burch does get forward and makes a pass, it is either into the box or further up field. The 32-year-old is usually paired with a young and speedy wing partner, who naturally pushes up field. Burch does well to get the ball to that winger or into the box to help create offense.
In the defensive half, we see Burch similarly send the ball up field along the touchline to his wing partner. We also see Burch lob long balls forward at times. This is Burch playing it safe. He’s rarely put his team in precarious situations. Most of his unsuccessful passes close to goal are long balls. When in doubt, he clears his lines.
Burch isn’t a perfect left back. But he’s defensively sound and has yet to make a noteworthy mistake this season. He stays compact, allowing Colorado’s more dangerous wide threats to get forward. When Burch does get into the attack, he pushes it forward to his wing partner or sends it towards goal. He doesn’t get forward every often, but when he does he makes something happen.
He’s part of the reason the Colorado Rapids are top of the league. Burch is a very important role player, the kind you need in order to make the playoffs. Or win the Supporter’s Shield.