Chicago Fire defender Austin Berry has been named the SBI MLS Rookie of the Month. Berry, who joined the team in Jan. 2012, has already become a prominent part of the starting lineup. This recognition from SBI (Soccer by Ives) has led to speculation about his potential nomination as MLS Rookie of the Year.
Austin Berry is Recognized by SBI
Austin Berry has won the current SBI MLS Rookie of the Month award for his ongoing contributions to the Chicago Fire. Soccer by Ives selected Berry over Nick DeLeon, Luis Silva and Connor Lade. The 23-year-old defender has already scored three goals during his first season with the team. Although some of his 20 appearances have not been perfect, Berry is still an important part of the starting lineup and improving as he gains more experience.
The combination of Austin Berry with Arne Friedrich in defense has been a powerful move for the Chicago Fire. The rookie has been able to work well with Friedrich to help the team overcome some of the defense shortcomings seen by fans in previous seasons. Berry's ability to quickly adjust to MLS has made his transition from the University of Louisville seamless.
Future MLS Rookie of the Year?
The competition for MLS Rookie of the Year is much greater than the Soccer by Ives monthly awards, so Austin Berry's chances of winning are smaller. However, there is a strong possibility of him being nominated because of his contributions to the Fire. Since MLS requires that nominees have no prior professional experience in any league for the award, he qualifies. Austin Berry has not escaped the attention of Major League Soccer and has been listed in the Castrol Weekly Top 20 several times this season.
The Chicago Fire have won the MLS Rookie of the Year twice since their formation as a team. In 2000, Carlos Bocanegra won this award, and Damani Ralph won in 2003. MLS has given this award to a total of seven defenders in the past, so Austin Berry's position should not matter, and his performance this season deserves the award.
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Lana follows MLS, UEFA and FIFA. She has been a faithful fan of the Chicago Fire since 1998. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.