- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 6, 2007

Finding a good left-sided defender is a problem for most soccer teams. Talented left backs are always in short supply.

However, D.C. United may have found the solution to its defensive dilemma in Marc Burch, a 6-foot-2, 190 pound forward who has been converted into a polished defender.

Burch, a natural left-footer, has been listed as a forward throughout his playing career. With United, he has taken on a new role.

“We actually brought him in with the idea of playing him in the back because of his ability to serve balls and stretch defenses,” D.C. United coach Tom Soehn said. “It took a little bit of understanding … but he’s adjusted very well.”

Burch, 23, waited four months with United to earn his first start July 22. But he has started six more games since, and the club has won all six, giving up two goals.

“It’s easy to play in the left-back position, but to be good at it is pretty hard,” Burch said. “If you have any soccer skills, you know you have to defend anywhere on the field; however, the difference is adjusting to that one particular spot on the field.”

Soehn thought he had solved his left-sided defensive woes when he brought in veteran defender Greg Vanney from the Colorado Rapids in June, but an injury to Vanney opened the way for Burch to come off the bench.

“He has a soccer brain and the athletic qualities,” said Soehn, who acquired Burch from the Columbus Crew in April for a third-round supplemental pick. “He can strike the ball well with unbelievable composure.”

Burch is good on crosses and also has been called on to take corner kicks. He’s even lining up to take free kicks alongside Christian Gomez.

“I’ve always liked serving balls and getting assists,” said Burch who has two assists this season.

Soehn has called on Burch to help change the point of attack in games, to go on offense when he can and to play a simple defensive game.

After three years at Evansville, where he scored seven goals in 53 games, Burch transferred to Maryland.

“I wanted to be at a school where I could succeed and go on and make the MLS, but I didn’t think I could do it [at Evansville], and I wanted to win a national championship,” said Burch, a native of Cincinnati.

At Maryland he scored four goals in 21 games and scored the game-winner in the NCAA title game on a 25-yard free kick against New Mexico in 2005. He bounced around MLS, playing a handful of games for the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Columbus Crew last year before landing with United.

“Hopefully people are seeing that I’m out there,” Burch said. “It’s not really me but a group thing, and as a whole, I think I fit in as a little piece of the puzzle.”

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