Major League Soccer is a small community.
Players, coaches, owners all know one another. Some have spent time together working for an organization, others strike up friendships during their careers. It's the way of the world, and it's magnified in the fishbowl of Major League Soccer and its teams.
Austin Berry's interview with the Philly Soccer Page took shots at Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin and technical director Chris Albright. In it, Curtin is portrayed as untrustworthy, while Albright is shown as a guy thrust into a position where he doesn't know what he's doing. And while these depictions may or may not be true (let's face it, 6 months running the show hasn't really given enough of a sample size to make an accurate assessment), Berry effectively portrayed who men who are pretty much universally respected throughout the MLS community as incompetent and vindictive.
Good luck finding another club.
I can't think of an MLS club willing to take a shot on a guy who so easily throws his manager and technical director under the bus - especially a player that couldn't catch on after a trial with an NASL team. That MLS Rookie of the Year award is now three seasons removed, and last year he managed less than 500 minutes on a Union team that had a revolving door at the position he plays.
Berry has to be smarter than that, right? People often wonder why most interviews are bland, filled with sportspeak and phrases like "I'll play where the coach wants me to. I just want to help the team." Phrases that say nothing using a lot of different words. The reason is that you don't want to go on the record saying the wrong thing. The best thing that Berry could have done would have been to refuse to answer the question or given the standard "I'll play where the coach wants me to. I just want to help the team." It says nothing, true. It makes for a boring interview. But at the end of it all, Berry still is a viable candidate for a job as a professional soccer player. I'm not so sure that's the case now.
In this day of instant digital media, these statements can get around the globe in an instant and derail a career. Curtin and Albright have read that article I'm sure. Former teammates and other coworkers of Curtin and Albright have read that article I'm sure. In the small community of players and ex-players, I'm sure there are people who read that and have made up their mind that Berry isn't worth the risk.
So what happens from here? Berry is only making $85,000 a year in salary, so cutting him to free up salary wouldn't help the club all that much. Berry's trade value basically evaporated with that interview, since the club now has no leverage to sell him. The club could still cut him, and that may still happen. They may decide to loan him out to Harrisburg for the duration of his contract in hopes he'll regain some trade value. He could get another trial with a club, perhaps in NASL or USL, but if he couldn't catch on with the Cosmos (who at last count had only five defenders on the roster) there's nothing to say he'd catch on with another club either. Or the Union could do like they did with Freddy Adu and just keep him in limbo until his contract is up and then watch him leave. Regardless, it seems as though Berry's days in Philadelphia - and probably Major League Soccer - are over.
(Editor's Note: Berry's salary in 2014 was $85,000 and guaranteed compensation of $100,000, not $44,000 as originally reported.)