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Saturday, January 7, 2017

What's Next For Junior Burgos? - By Taylor Peyton

Junior Burgos played for the Silverbacks in 2014, and in the later parts of the 2015 season. During his time with the club, Burgos became a fan favorite with his goals, assists, and free kick taking skills which were second to none in the NASL, and possibly in all of North America.

Burgos’ time with the Silverbacks could easily be described as one large highlight reel. Whether it was a fantastic ball over the top to Jaime Chavez against Colorado Rapids, finishing off an incredible team goal against Real Salt Lake, or scoring a free kick against Ottawa, Edmonton, New York, San Antonio, or nearly any opponent the Silverbacks played in the NASL, it seemed like Junior was doing something big every week.

After the Silverbacks incredible run in the 2014 US Open Cup, Burgos found himself getting his first call up to El Salvador’s National Team. After assisting a goal in his first match against the Dominican Republic, Burgos was named to El Salvador’s 21 man squad for the Copa Centroamericana. He came on as a substitute in two group matches against Honduras and Belize. The Salvadorans went on to lose the third place match 1-0 against Panama in a game which Burgos was not used. Shortly after the tournament, he was called into the squad again and scored his first international goal against Nicaragua. Surprisingly, Junior Burgos was not called into the squad for World Cup Qualifiers. In the 4th round of qualifying in CONCACAF, El Salvador finished 4th in their group, thus not qualifying for the final round. To date, Junior has six appearances, and one goal for El Salvador.

Initially, Burgos was not part of the Silverbacks squad that was put together close to the last minute in 2015. He started the season with Jaguares de Cordoba, but he was not there for long due to the club not meeting the terms of his contract. He then signed a short term deal with Orange County Blues in April, hoping to secure a move in the Summer. That’s when the SIlverbacks came knocking.

After a very disappointing Spring season that saw them finish 11th, the Silverbacks needed to get their season back on track. Considering they only scored seven goals in 10 games while most clubs had scored somewhere around 15 goals, it was pretty obvious that the attack needed improvement. The Silverbacks brought in Kosuke Kimura, Pedro Mendes, Paulo Mendes, and of course Junior Burgos. The new acquisitions worked wonders for the Silverbacks. They were scoring more goals, and up until the very end of the Fall Season when they started to falter, the SIlverbacks were looking like they had a shot at the playoffs. Burgos was a big part of the Silverbacks stellar Fall Season. He was scoring amazing free kicks for fun like he did before, including the NASL Goal Of The Year against San Antonio, and he often played a part in goals that were scored by his teammates. He even scored what turned out to be the last goal of the NASL era for the SIlverbacks; a free kick just outside the box.

Shortly after it was announced the SIlverbacks would no longer be in the NASL, Burgos signed for Atlanta United and was loaned to the Tampa Bay Rowdies. He started off strongly with Tampa, providing an assist in only his second game, then scoring a goal in the Rowdies last game of the 2016 NASL Spring Season. But then in the fall season, he would only go on to start in two games for the Rowdies, the first two to be precise. Apart from coming on as a late sub against Ottawa on July 31st, he would not play again for the rest of the season. That’s 16 consecutive matches in total that he did not play. Somehow, Junior Burgos went from being one of the biggest stars on a team that was making a playoff push one fall to not even featuring in a team that was going nowhere fast the next fall. It might be the way it goes in Soccer sometimes but still seems like a cruel twist of fate. To make matters worse, Burgos was waved by Atlanta United in on December 16th, 2016.

Now the question is, what is next for him? He hasn’t been able to catch a break for a club other than the Silverbacks. But for the time being, it doesn’t look like the Silverbacks can help Burgos keep his career on track. He is a very talented and special player who deserves to play often for a club that is capable of performing well, whether it be in MLS, USL, NASL, or even outside of the US and Canada. His lack of chances with Tampa hasn’t done him any favors, but we’re talking about a guy who Eric Wynalda once said might be the best free kick specialist he has ever seen, and people who have seen him do it wouldn’t argue with the former Silverbacks Technical Director

There is no reason Burgos shouldn’t be able to find a new club that will use his skills to their advantage like the Silverbacks did. It’s more a matter of when and where than it is a matter of if. Hopefully, it happens for him soon. Silverbacks fans always take pride in familiar names and faces doing well on the pitch (as long as it’s not against them of course), so It’s a pretty safe bet that Silverbacks fans wish him well and hope it happens for him as soon as possible. Maybe sometime soon he'll score one of his amazing free kicks against Atlanta United and show them what they missed out on.