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Chicago trades Austin Berry to Philadelphia

Feb 24, 2014, 9:30 PM EST

Houston Dynamo v Chicago Fire Getty Images

Oddly, Austin Berry was apparently odd man out in Chicago, which has recently reinforced its roster with two experienced center backs, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni.

Chicago traded Berry today to Philadelphia, which is a bit of a head-scratcher. Berry, the 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year, is probably just as talented and every bit as dependable as the newest central defensive arrivals into Toyota Park.

Yes, both are more experienced, but that’s the one advantage they offer over Berry. Ianni, in fact, has been a part-time starter during most of his eight years at Houston and Seattle. Compare that to Berry, who got into the Fire lineup early last year and hasn’t missed a match since.

The Union sent an undisclosed amount of allocation money to Chicago, but John Hackworth’s club gets a lot in return. In fact, it’s a lot easier today to see Philadelphia as a playoff team.

There was already a lot to like about Philadelphia, where so much young talent (Zac MacMath, Amobi Okugo, Sheanon Williams and Jack McInerney for starters) is aligned with quite a few trusty vets (Sebastien Le Toux, Brian Carroll and the recently signed Maurice Edu for starters).

But the hole was at center back, where Okugo needed a quality partner. Now, you look up and down the lineup around PPL Park and find yourself nodding affirmatively. (There’s a good look at this post on the Union’s potential opening day lineup.)

There is one caveat here: Berry was better as a rookie, and it’s not so hard to sort that one out. He benefitted greatly from playing alongside Arne Friedrich, a talented and highly professional former German international. When injuries forced Friedrich into retirement last year, Berry wasn’t quite the same.

That doesn’t mean he can’t play without a seasoned vet leading the way alongside, it’s just something to watch and consider.

  1. firewolf777 - Feb 25, 2014 at 2:39 AM

    Lucky for him okugo is a rock and will lead him well

  2. mvktr2 - Feb 25, 2014 at 9:39 AM

    I follow 2 teams in each conference (being 9+ hours away from the nearest team), Chicago & Philly in the east and LA & Seattle in the west. Hurtado is a slug. He’s not a bad player but man he can make some bone headed mistakes and seems somewhat physically limited. Conversely Berry seems to me a thinking player, just the opposite of Hurtado. I think Philly got the better of this one. I also think Chicago will be improved this year but have made a couple poor moves in Berry and a real head scratcher in getting rid of Rios in favor of Larentowitcz.

    • bwana63 - Feb 25, 2014 at 10:32 AM

      Don’t know squat about Hurtado. The Fire gave up 53 goals last year. Berry regressed, quite a bit IMO. Something had to give. Only time will tell if Yallop’s D moves pan out.

      WRT Rios: it’s simple, ~$750K. With the inept management of player payroll (hello, Sherjill, Puppo, El Flaco, et al), he had to go.

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