Earlier today the Philadelphia Union filled a hole in their backline by acquiring Chicago Fire center back Austin Berry. In return the Union will be giving the Fire allocation money.
Berry, 25, was MLS Rookie of the Year in 2012. He started 62 matches in two seasons for the Fire, scoring four goals. Drafted in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft with the ninth overall pick, the 6'2" 188 pound center back from Louisville is the aerial presence in defense the Union have needed since the departure of Jeff Parke to DC United. Now with a core of Amobi Okugo, Austin Berry, Ethan White, and Richie Marquez, John Hackworth has ensured that the center back position on the club is filled with talent and promise.
Chicago are in the midst of trying to sign last year's Most Valuable Player, Mike Magee, to a new contract. Earlier today they terminated the contract of Uruguayan forward Federico Puppo as a means to create cap space. Berry was seen as expendable since the Fire added Patrick Ianni and Lovel Palmer during the off-season, and Bakary Soumare still on the roster after being acquired from Philadelphia last May.
This is yet another substantive move in the most productive off season in club history. Earlier this month John Hackworth confirmed rumors that the club were looking to add Bolton center back Zat Knight. Berry is much younger, less error-prone, and more physical in the air (yet less sloppy - only two yellow cards and no red cards) than the former England international. The Union could have as many as five new starters in their opening day lineup when they play the Portland Timbers on March 8th. It's up to Hackworth to utilize these new pieces and lead the Union to the playoffs.