The Chicago Fire have traded former MLS Rookie of the Year defender Austin Berry to the Philadelphia Union, sources confirmed to Goal USA on Monday. The Union are sending an undisclosed amount of allocation money and draft pick to the Fire for Berry.
The move helps the Union address a major need at central defender, giving Philadelphia the strong aerial presence in the back the team had been lacking.
Chicago's motivation for the Berry trade, as well as the Fire's move to part ways with Federico Puppo on Monday, stems from a need to create salary cap space to sign reigning MLS MVP Mike Magee to a new contract, sources told Goal. It remains unclear just how far along the Fire and Magee are in contract talks, but Magee is expected to sign a new contract before the start of the season.
Berry, 25, has started 62 matches over the course of two seasons since his MLS Rookie of the Year season in 2012. The 6-foot-2 University of Louisville product should step right in and start alongside regular starter Amobi Okugo in central defense for a Union team that has revamped its defense and midfield this offseason.
The Fire traded from a surplus of central defenders, which came about after the trade that acquired Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni from Seattle. Hurtado and veteran Bakary Soumare are expected to be the starting central defenders for the Fire.
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