2017 was a standout season for Jamaican forward Cory Burke as he showcased his skills for club and country while showcasing the skills that make him one of the top scoring threats in the United Soccer League.
The season saw Burke split time between Bethlehem Steel FC and the Jamaican National Team, where the 25-year-old gained invaluable experience that fueled the club’s remarkable second-half push into the USL Cup Playoffs. In the end, Burke ended the season as the club’s all-time leading goal scorer with 13 goals while tallying a pair of two-goal performances against one of Steel FC’s biggest rivals.
Burke’s season began with the forward becoming an official member of Steel FC, as the club completed a transfer with Rivoli United of the Red Stripe Premier League. After a strong debut campaign in the United States, Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke decided to bring in the loanee full-time and anchor the club’s offense.
Steel FC wasn’t the Jamaican’s first competitive action of the year, as he was called up for the Reggae Boyz friendlies against the U.S. and Honduras in February. Burke saw action in both matches, starting against the Stars and Stripes and playing 83 minutes. In the match, Burke created numerous chances with dangerous plays on the wing. Two weeks later, Burke saw time as a second-half substitute against Honduras.
Burke returned to Steel FC and reclaimed the starting striker position, notching his first goal of the season at Toronto FC II on May 13. Burke’s game-winning goal came from the penalty spot, beating the keeper with a calm strike into the back of the net. Two weeks later, Burke tallied another goal, capping off the club’s victory against Harrisburg City Islanders. The victory started the club’s historic run of play, as Steel FC went on an eight-match unbeaten streak.
The Reggae Boyz called again in June, as he started in a friendly against Peru which netted the forward a spot on the squad’s 2017 Caribbean Cup roster. Burke came up huge when needed, burring the game-winning penalty kick to advance the Reggae Boyz to the final.
After a brief stint with Steel FC, Burke received the ultimate call-up with Jamaica, being named to Jamaican’s CONCACAF Gold Cup squad where he helped the island nation reach the Finals for the second-consecutive tournament.
After traveling 20,000 miles over the summer, Burke showed no jet lag but the opposite. August began the forward’s stellar play. On the road at Ottawa, Burke’s defensive prowess helped the club fight back with an assist on Chris Nanco’s game-tying goal. One week later, Nanco repaid the favor late in the second-half, as Burke found the back of the net against Toronto at Goodman Stadium.
During August and September, Burke notched 16 points in eight matches. Facing off against in-state rivals Pittsburgh, Burke turned in his top performances of 2017. On the road, Burke tallied his first professional brace and followed up with another brace during the club’s Go Gold match at home against the Riverhounds.
In 2017 with Steel FC, Burke played more than 2,000 minutes, scoring nine goals and two assists. The nine goals finished second on the team while becoming the club’s all-time leading goal scorer. Burke led the team with 61 shots and 24 on target while adding a defensive prowess of 201 duels won and 29 tackles.