Sounders FC defender Marc Burch was asked this week if he had any hard feelings about his departure from D.C. United during the offseason.
“Yeah, I guess,” he said.
Then he broke into a smile.
“No hard feelings, but they had the opportunity to keep me and they didn’t,” he said. “I guess it’s time to go back and prove that I don’t believe their left back is any better than I am. But you know, if that’s what they think, that’s what they think. It’s time to go back and prove that we have a much better team here, and I’m happy to be here.”
The Sounders will visit Burch’s old club for a Major League Soccer match at 4:30 p.m. today. However, that current United left back – Daniel Woolard – did his best this week to avoid adding any individual friction to the rivalry between the clubs.
“I saw the comments from (Burch),” Woolard told MLSsoccer.com. “(All I have to say) is that Marc is a good soccer player.”
After 93 appearances with D.C. United from 2007-11, Burch thought he had shown himself to be a good enough soccer player to be a valued part of the club.
However, what he heard during contract negotiations told him something else. Finally, D.C. made him available in the second stage of the 2011 re-entry draft, where he was selected by Seattle.
“It just came to a point where they wanted to renegotiate,” Burch said. “And I felt like if they wanted to renegotiate what I’ve done after the five years that I was there, then it was time to split up. It was pretty quick for me to decide that it was time to go.”
Burch landed on his feet in Seattle, where he has started all three games of this MLS regular season.
If Burch gets his fourth start today, coach Sigi Schmid hopes he will channel his bruised feelings in a productive way.
“Any time you play against your old club you’re motivated to go out there and play,” Schmid said. “Sometimes you can be over-motivated. That can work against you a little bit. I think everybody always looks forward to playing their old team and putting on a good performance.”
The Burch story is only the latest bump between a couple of clubs that have managed to form a rivalry despite being separated by the span of the continent.
The rivalry began in the Sounders’ expansion season when general manager Adrian Hanauer questioned the selection of RFK Stadium as the place for the U.S. Open Cup final. That drew some return fire from United executives apparently taken aback by the perceived arrogance of the expansion team.
However, Seattle got the last laugh by claiming its first trophy with a 2-1 win on D.C.’s home pitch.
“There was obviously a lot of rivalry,” Schmid said. “They got to host it, and we went there and beat them at their place, so I’m sure that’s not something that made them happy. They’re a team that hasn’t been in the playoffs in a while. I think that’s on their mind more than anything. I don’t think it’s more so a rivalry with Seattle (than) it is their goal to be a team that makes the playoffs this year, and in order to do that they need to get points at home.”
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SOUNDERS FC (2-1-0; 6 POINTS) AT D.C. UNITED (1-2-1; 4 POINTS)
4:30 p.m., RFK Stadium.
TV: Ch. 6/16. RADIO: 97.3-FM.
CLUB LEADERS: For Seattle: Goals 4, David Estrada; assists 2, Alvaro Fernandez; shots 12, Estrada; shots on goal 7, Estrada; goals against average 0.67, Michael Gspurning. For D.C.: G 2, Nick DeLeon and Maicon Santos; A 2, Dwayne De Rosario; S 13, De Rosario; SOG 4, DeLeon; GAA 1.33, Joe Willis.
HEAD TO HEAD: Seattle leads 3-2-1 overall and 2-1 at RFK. The clubs split their two meetings in 2011, each winning at home. This is the only scheduled meeting this season.
NOTES: This is the Sounders’ first road game of the Major League Soccer season. In 2011, Seattle went 9-3-5 on the road, best in MLS. The Sounders take a five-game road winning streak into the match. The MLS record is seven. Forward Eddie Johnson (hip) could be available to make his Sounders debut today. However, midfielder Mauro Rosales (knee) and defender Adam Johansson (hamstring) are doubtful. D.C. defender Brandon McDonald is out, serving his one-game suspension for a dangerous challenge. Seattle is coming off its first loss of the season, a 1-0 decision to San Jose. United is coming off its first win, 4-1 over FC Dallas. D.C. hasn’t won back-to-back games since 2009. De Rosario is the reigning league MVP. Edvin Jurisevic will referee.
QUOTABLE: “RFK has always been a loud stadium because of the roof that encloses the whole thing (over the seating). La Barra Brava has always been a very good supporters group, and the Screaming Eagles back there. It’s an older stadium, but the noise stays in the stadium.” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid
NEXT: Colorado Rapids, 1 p.m. April 14, CenturyLink Field.
Don Ruiz, firstname.lastname@example.org