Junior Burgos has played for a lot of teams and put in a lot of work in an attempt to make it back to Major League Soccer.
Cut from Toronto not long after being selected in the SuperDraft in 2012, Burgos began a soccer journey that included more than five teams and three continents. The work finally paid off when he signed with Atlanta United a few weeks ago and placed on loan with Tampa Bay in the NASL as both he and his club get ready for next year’s inaugural season. Tampa Bay and Burgos will open their seasons on Saturday.
“Once I left Toronto I had a chip because I didn’t think I got a chance to prove myself,” Burgos said. “I knew that I had to work hard. I knew I had to get as many professional minutes as I could to get back into MLS.”
Two of those teams were the Silverbacks in separate stints in 2014 and 2015, when the attacking midfielder made 34 appearances with seven goals.
Eric Wynalda, who managed Burgos at the Silverbacks in 2014, said he was always a good player, but while in Atlanta learned how to become a good teammate.
Looking back on it, Burgos admits that he and Wynalda didn’t get along at first.
“He felt like I had a bit of an ago,” Burgos said.
But Burgos said Wynalda and assistant Ricardo Montoya taught him how to recognize the difference between what was best for the team and for him.
“He said good players always find themselves in good situations,” Burgos said of Wynalda. “If the team does well, players do well.”
Burgos said it wasn’t an issue with his attitude that ended his time with Toronto. Instead, he said the team had a lot of veterans who needed to play. So, he was cut after just two appearances, 11 minutes and two shots, one on goal.
He trained with teams in Chile and Germany before signing with the Silverbacks two years later.
He then signed with a team in Colombia before coming back to the U.S. and California, before once again joining the Silverbacks.
He said Atlanta United began to scout him in the fall of last year when he was back with the Silverbacks. He signed as soon as the calendar turned.
“It’s truly exciting,” he said. “It’s definitely something I look forward to doing when I heard about the club.”
Burgos said there isn’t any pressure that comes with being the second player signed by Atlanta United.
“I know I have to work hard and do well this year,” he said. “It’s a big year for me. I’m excited to continue to show people that I’m a good player. I work hard and hopefully this year gives them a different perspective in Atlanta.
“I’m not going in there as a rookie like I did with Toronto. I’ve gotten some experience. I want to be an impact player. I want to be a player that the team looks to make things happen.”