Berry, DeLeon set to square off in battle of top rookie candidates

Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

D.C. United’s visit to square off with the Chicago Fire on Saturday is one of the weekend’s marquee MLS matches, and not just because second place in the Eastern Conference is up for grabs.

The two front-runners for Rookie of the Year, Fire centerback Austin Berry and United midfielder Nick DeLeon, are set to do battle in the match with postseason implications and it will provide both of them one last opportunity to show why they should be named the top rookie of the 2012 class. Berry and DeLeon won’t be matched up directly against one another, but they should still cross paths aplenty in the match that was announced as a sell-out on Friday.

Berry and DeLeon may be competing against one another on Saturday and in the race for Rookie of the Year, but the two have some history together after having been teammates at Louisville. That might explain why they both have made playful campaigns for why they should be win this year’s award, with Berry most recently responding to DeLeon going on video and saying he eats defenders for breakfast¬†after munching on some cereal from a box that the Fire defender is plastered on the front of.

While the duo may be having fun with it all after their respective strong first seasons, Saturday’s game at Toyota Park will be no laughing matter. D.C. has a one point advantage over Chicago in the standings, but a loss for either team could see them drop down to fourth or fifth place should the New York Red Bulls see off the Philadelphia Union and if the Houston Dynamo top the Colorado Rapids.

That means the loser of the Fire-United fixture could realistically wind up playing in the knockout round of the playoffs, perhaps even as a visitor. It is for that reason alone that both Berry and DeLeon will need to try and deliver top performances for their clubs, as failing to do so by either could prove damning for their hopes of reaching and winning the MLS Cup final.

Not to mention the Rookie of the Year award.

Photo by Jose L. Argueta/ISIphotos.com

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Which of these two rookies do you think had a better season? Agree that one of them will win the Rookie of the Year award? Think someone else should win it?

Share your thoughts below.

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6 Responses to Berry, DeLeon set to square off in battle of top rookie candidates

  1. Sergio says:

    for me no doubt. Austin Berry is the right man

  2. Smitty says:

    Can’t speak for Berry, really. As far as DeLeon, even as a DCU fan, he’s shown so many flashes of brilliance but there have been times when he’s gone MIA. Or maybe it’s my eyesight/inability to pick him out on the field after he trimmed his hair. He should at least win Rookie Haircut of the Year, hands down.

  3. will ruppe says:

    Doesnt DC have the one point advantage?

  4. Q says:

    Deleon is your winner! Important goals at the right time & he has stepped up with DeRo out. Special player with the ability to create time/space in the fastest/tightest of games. Modern day hybrid player who’s game was made for international soccer. Look forward to seeing the Brek Shea, Nick Deleon left side for the US national team.

  5. Check Yo Math says:

    DCU can’t finish fifth, and therefore would not be visitor in a playoff game.

  6. Ryan says:

    Berry clearly the choice for me. 3 goals for a CB? Yeah, that’s pretty good (I emphasize the goal number because people tend to look at offense over defense). He has been a great player overall and is just getting better.