Sounders FC's Marc Burch said his suspension for using a gay slur back in November "needed to be harsh, because it's a harsh thing that I did." The veteran defender will serve the final game of his punishment during Saturday's MLS opener.
TUKWILA — The tangible punishment comes to an end this weekend, but Marc Burch says he will always be affected by the mistake he made three months ago.
Back in November, the veteran defender was caught directing a gay slur at an opponent during Sounders FC’s playoff series against Real Salt Lake.
Burch, who issued an immediate apology, was suspended three games by MLS — the last of which will be served during Seattle’s season opener Saturday against Montreal.
“I think it will always be on the back of my mind,” said Burch, addressing the matter with reporters for the first time after Tuesday’s practice.
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“You make a mistake and you want to fix it as much as you can. That’s what I’ve tried to do. It’s the only thing I can do. I can’t make up for what I did. All I can do is just prove from here on out that nothing like that is ever going to happen again. That’s not who I am.”
The eight-year MLS veteran, who was also assigned sensitivity and diversity training, had no issue with the severity of the punishment.
“It needed to be harsh, because it’s a harsh thing that I did,” said Burch, who also missed two playoff games. “I think that (commissioner) Don Garber made the right decision.”
The truth is, Burch thinks MLS is the perfect league for the first openly gay male professional athlete.
One of his former college teammates at Maryland, ex-MLS star Robbie Rogers, recently revealed he was gay in a retirement announcement. Burch, whose oldest sister is lesbian, hopes his good friend returns to the league.
“I think we’ll be the first league to definitely accept it,” he said. “I think it will come and go a lot easier than people think. … It’s going to happen.”
Burch spent a day in December with a local gay soccer team and is eager to start his own season, even if delayed. He said the most nervous he has ever been for a soccer game was last year’s season-ender against Los Angeles.
“It’s tough to watch your team go out,” Burch said. “I feel like I had an impact on our team not making it through, so this year is the year that I’m going to make up for it.”
• GM Adrian Hanauer confirmed the Sounders’ interest in acquiring Obafemi Martins before the close of the transfer window, calling the Nigerian forward “a player we are hopefully circling the wagons on and maybe with a little bit of luck able to bring into the organization.” Martins told Spanish media he is unhappy at his current club, Spain’s Levante UD, and hopeful he can come to MLS.
• Second-year forward Babayele Sodade indicated Tuesday on Twitter that he has been cut by the Sounders. The team had no update.
• No longer in camp are supplemental draft picks Kevin Durr, who returned to the Air Force Academy, and Jennings Rex. Non-contract players still with the team are invitees Philip Lund, Ashani Fairclough and Travis Bowen, and supplemental draft pick Will Bates.
• Defender Patrick Ianni (foot fracture) is starting to walk again without a protective boot, but his return date is still uncertain. Right back Adam Johansson (knee) and midfielder Shalrie Joseph (calf) were limited in Tuesday’s practice.