SBI MLS Rookie of the Year: Austin Berry

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

The 2012 MLS Draft class was a strong one, but the cream of the rookie crop was easy to sort through when the regular season came to a close. Nick DeLeon became an integral part of D.C. United’s impressive run to the playoffs and Matt Hedges stepped in to an injury-hit FC Dallas defense and enjoyed a standout rookie campaign.

Then there was Austin Berry. A steady force in the central defense for the Chicago Fire, Berry was an integral part of the Fire’s run to the MLS playoffs. A dominant figure in the air, Berry’s poise and consistency made him the perfect centerback partner for German veteran Arne Friedrich.

The Louisville product played every single minute of the Fire’s final 28 games, recording three goals and providing a reliable presence in the back-line for a Chicago side that was challenging for first place in the Eastern Conference until the final weeks of the regular season.

Berry beat out a strong field of contenders for the honor. Here is a rundown of the runners-up:

NICK DELEON

Started the season in strong fashion, looking early on like he might run away with the award before eventually hitting a rookie wall in mid-season. Finished the regular season on a roll, and wound up with six goals and four assists.

MATT HEDGES

Another rookie who started out on the bench before establishing himself two months into the season, Hedges made 22 consecutive starts for FC Dallas, scoring three goals and emerging as a skillful centerback with a bright future.

DARREN MATTOCKS

For a two month stretch in the middle of the season, Mattocks looked like he would emerge to run away with the Rookie of the Year award, scoring seven goals in those two months. He couldn’t keep up that torrid pace though and faded late in the year.

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There were plenty of other impressive rookies in MLS in 2012, from Connor Lade to Luis Silva, but the four players mentioned above stood out the most and none enjoyed as strong a rookie season as Austin Berry, SBI’s pick for 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year?

What do you think of our selection? Which rookie impressed you the most in 2012?

Share your thoughts below.

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13 Responses to SBI MLS Rookie of the Year: Austin Berry

  1. Sea Lion Brian says:

    Fire!

  2. krolpolski says:

    You nailed it Ives.

  3. DrewCore says:

    I am a Fire fan, but Berry was the clear winner of this years race. The others brought flair and excitement at points in the season, and Hedges was a consistent presence, but no one meant more to their team and played a consistently high level than Berry. But I just repeated everything the article had to say, so ya…

  4. THomas says:

    Can’t disagree here. Learning the professional game from a guy like Friedrich is almost an unfair advantage.

  5. Shane says:

    Didnt see enough of all the rookies to have an opinion. However, I imagine Berry benefited a great deal from having a CB partner of such quality and experience. Just now reading what Thomas said, yes, hardly fair.

  6. Tyler Kitchens says:

    I’d have to agree. Although Nick probably would’ve had it if he didn’t fade out halfway through the year.

  7. Chop says:

    I think Berry is the winner also, but that back line he played on didn’t produce very many shutouts. Shutouts are a very high benchmark for defenders and Berry has all the other intangibles except for that.

  8. Rees says:

    Maybe Berry had the best overall year, but Hedges is the better centerback, and I especially think it will play out that way over the course of their careers.

  9. DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

    These are good choices, but being a DC Fan I would have hoped to see DeLeon first. Part of what makes his play so good is his physical toughness on the ball, and his poise. He is going to be super. I haven’t seen Berry play enough to fairly protest his selection over DeLeon though. If he’s that good, perhaps we’ve found a future partner for Cameron?

    • 2tone says:

      There are quite a few future partners fro Cameron. Like:

      1. Gonzo
      2. Brooks
      3. Besler
      4. Berry
      5. John
      6. Hedges

      And you can also add in Seb Hines if he finally files a onetime switch to play for the U.S.

      There are plenty of talented Cb’s coming throught the ranks. It’s time to start calling up up some of these promising Cb’s. My guess you will see Brooks, and possibly John called up against Russia.

      • Darwin says:

        2tone, despite Berry’s superior season, don’t you think that Hedges’s skill set is more aligned to international football? I think he projects higher than Berry, along with John.

        1. Gonzo – already called up
        2. Besler -already called up
        3. John – already called up
        4. Hedges – solid rookie season, post college
        5. Berry – solid rookie season, post college
        6. Brooks – 19 yr old not yet established in 2Bundesliga

        • Excellency says:

          Gonzo may well be occupied in playoffs when the friendly with Russia comes up on the 14th of Nov.

          I’d like to see Besler-Berry and John-Hedges each get a half at CB with some veteran fb’s and dmid so we know what our depth chart looks like. It is time to stop fooling around with playing midflelders and social security recipients at CB.