CARSON -- Bobby Burling is “just kind of doing the MLS tour,” spending a week or so with Colorado and now with Chivas USA, hoping a backline job will come his way.
He needs things to clear up north of the border first.
The 27-year-old center back, a 2007 Galaxy draft pick who spent all or parts of three seasons with Chivas USA, joined fellow trialist Scott Morrison on the Goats' backline for Friday's MLS Reserve League game against the San Jose Earthquakes at Home Depot Center.
Burling, a Coloradan who starred at Loyola Marymount University, has been in camp with Chivas since last week. His rights are owned by the Montreal Impact, which took him from San Jose in November's MLS Expansion Draft, but he has no future in Quebec.
“It's been a frustrating five or six months, to say the least ...,” Burling said after going the full 90 minutes in Chivas' 3-1 victory. “The situation with Montreal has been kind of a dead end, and for whatever reason it's taken longer than I would of definitely liked for something to happen.”
Burling was unable to reach a deal with the Impact, and he's been unable to secure his release so he could join another MLS club. If a team wants him, it likely would have to make a trade for his rights.
“Long story short, a bit of a contract dispute,” he said. “He said/she said what I was going to get when I came up there, and basically things went backwards from there, and now here we stand.
“It's frustrating. I was really looking forward to going there, and now it's all kind of up in the air.”
Burling joined Chivas in April 2007, after failing to make the Galaxy roster, and played only in Reserve League games as a rookie. He made 18 MLS starts for the Goats in 2008 but was limited by injury to only three appearances in 2009 before heading to the Earthquakes in a September trade. He made 45 league starts in two years and two months in San Jose.
Montreal offered an opportunity to join manager Jesse Marsch, Burling's former Chivas teammate, and it's Marsch he's been dealing with while trying to get his official release.
“I haven't spoken with their front office at all, that's more my agent,” he said. “I've been speaking with [Marsch]. He's telling me the right things, but at the end of the day, I'm still waiting, and it's frustrating.”
Burling played in a Reserve League game with the Rapids two weeks ago, was on trial earlier this year with Sint-Truiden in Belgium and Kickers Offenbach in Germany, and says there's a possibility of returning to Europe in July. Unless Chivas decides to keep him around and a deal can be made.
Assistant coach Greg Vanney, a former U.S. national team defender, likes Burling.
“We brought him in to take a look at him and also give him a chance to keep in form and keep training and all that good stuff,” Vanney said. “He's a big guy [6-foot-5], a great physical presence in the back. He's in every challenge and he's strong in the challenge and he wins his challenges, and that's a good thing.”
Burling is just happy to be on a field, any field: “Anytime you can get in with a group of guys and train and be in the environment again, it's always fun.”
DAY AT THE BEACH?: Morrison, a Scottish left back who ends a two-week trial Sunday with Chivas, says he's had had the time of his life “working hard and getting my head down and hopefully trying to impress everyone.”
He's got experience -- he's played for Scottish Premier League sides Aberdeen and Dunfermline and this most recent season helped Ross County to the First Division title and promotion, for the first time, to the SPL -- and it was telling against San Jose.
“He understands the position,” said Vanney, who a fine left back the first half of his playing career. “He took up some good positions throughout the course of the game, he moves well with the [back]line, he did a good job of getting into the attack, he's a good server of the ball. I think there's a difference in style, the way the Scottish League plays the way we play here, and he's still adapting to that, but he showed to me today that he understands the position and can adapt. ... He's been a bright guy to have in camp. He's always engaged. You can tell the game of soccer is his life.”
Enough so that Morrison, 28, turned down sure money from Ross County for the chance to try out in MLS. He arranged a trial through technical director Simon Elliott, skipping his sister's wedding to be here.
“I've really enjoyed it. Everyone's been really welcoming to me, they've given me the platform to go and express myself, show what I can do,” Morrison said. “It's been hard work, and the training have been really intense.”
His family and friends back in Scotland figure he's on holiday.
“That's what they think I've been doing, in California in the sun and the beach,” he said, “but it's probably been the toughest two weeks of my career so far. Every session you're trying to impress. It's been good, but it's been hard work.”
LOST RIGHTS: Chivas this week lost the MLS rights to defender/midfielder Daniel Steres (Calabasas/Calabasas HS), a supplemental draft pick who didn't make the team and has been playing with the Premier Development League's Ventura County Fusion. He was taken in the college waiver draft by Seattle, where he also spent some of preseason, and heads north next week to try to make the Sounders roster.