John Tolkin plays for the U.S. Men's National Team in a 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup group stage match against Jamaica (Credit: American Soccer Now)
John Tolkin plays for the U.S. Men’s National Team in a 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup group stage match against Jamaica (Credit: American Soccer Now)

The 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup is entering the knockout round. The weekend the Quarterfinals will have the eight remaining teams face off around the country. Despite half the competitive field being eliminated, both New York Red Bull players still remain in the competition.

The RBNY presence at the Gold Cup has decreased in recent years. This isn’t helped by the departure of players like Derrick Etienne Jr. and Michael Murillo over the last few years. Side note, holy cow it’s been four years since Murillo left. That’s wild. Regardless, only two players from Harrison were called up for the tournament. Not only that, but both played against one another in one of the first games of 2023.

One player is a homegrown product whose time on the international stage is just beginning. The other is a recent Red Bull addition who may be in the twilight of their national team career. Here’s a quick recap of how both did.

Cory Burke – Jamaica

As a 31 year old striker, Cory Burke’s time starting games for the Jamaican National Team has come to an end. However that doesn’t mean he isn’t proving useful in his new role. Burke appeared in all three of the team’s group stage games and scored a goal.

Entering games around the 65th minute mark, Burke has worked as a pair of fresh legs in the second half. A similar role to the one he was providing for New York under Gerhard Struber. His arrival in the first match against the United States saw his team get a brief surge of momentum. But two yellow cards and well used USA subs swung it back, allowing the defending champions to equalize. His arrival in the second half against Trinidad and Tobago didn’t amount to much outside of a yellow card and two fouls. The final group stage match against St. Kitts & Nevis was against the worst team in the group. Still his lone shot was on target and found the back of the net in the 5-0 win.

Jamaica finished second in Group A and clinched a spot in the knockout round, The team isn’t the same CONCACAF powerhouse that it once was. But a draw against the United States and a winnable game against Guatemala coming up is a good sign. Burke’s time on the national team is coming to an end. If the team is truly looking to become a power again, its good to have that veteran ability in the second stages.

John Tolkin – United States

Unlike Burke, John Tolkin is new to the Gold Cup. In fact, the 20 year old only had one international cap to his name coming into the competition. But while his stock is currently high in MLS the defender has had a slow time in the Group Stage.

The 20-year old Tolkin was benched for both matches against Trinidad & Tobago and St. Kitts & Nevis. Both were blowout wins for the USA, winning both 6-0. Which on the surface feels like perfect times to play someone like Tolkin. Instead, his first and only Gold Cup game thus far was the opening match against Jamaica. The match began with Tolkin starting his team’s first real scoring chance. In the 8th minute, Tolkin sent a long ball forward to Jesús Ferreira. He fed Alan Soñora in the box, but the left-footed attempt was saved by goalkeeper Andre Blake.

He ended the game with one shot, off target, before exiting in the 82nd. In total, he shared the field with his RBNY teammate for about 10 minutes.

Tolkin is the only member of the New York Red Bulls to be named an MLS All-Star this year. He’s been on a stellar rise in the league the past two years. Head coach Gregg Berhalter has also been high on the New Jersey native and talked about getting him into the squad. It’s hard to see him starting the knockout game against Canada coming up. Especially with the two teams playing in the CONCACAF Nations League Final just last month. But his potential to be a second half substitute in that game is possible. Jalen Neal having a yellow card might mean accumulation comes into play for future games too.

Upcoming Slate

As previously mentioned, both Jamaica and the United States have advanced to the knockout stage. Both teams will be in action on Sunday night. The next time both teams can play one-another is the 2023 Gold Cup Final.

Meanwhile the New York Red Bulls will be in action at home this Saturday. The team will host the New England Revolution at Red Bull Arena. It kicks off a slate of three games in eight days. The team looks to continue a points streak which included a draw vs Charlotte and huge win over Atlanta.

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