The Chicago Fire made an early exit from the MLS playoffs this season, but it isn’t heading into the off-season empty-handed.
MLS announced Monday that central defender Austin Berry has been named the league’s Rookie of the Year and captain Logan Pause won the Individual Fair Play Award.
Berry is the third Fire player to win the award, follwing Carlos Bocanegra and Damani Ralph. The award was voted on by media around the league, players and team management based on the regular season, and Berry won among all three groups, surpassing 50 percent of the vote from media and management in voting including all rookies. Berry beat out D.C. United’s Nick DeLeon, a teammate of Berry at the University of Louisville, and Vancouver’s Darren Mattocks.
“It’s a good honor,” said Berry, the subject of a team campaign for the award that featured him on a fake box of Life cereal sent to voters. “I’m very, very happy to win it. I can’t thank enough my fellow teammates, especially someone like Logan and some of the other guys who have helped me so much throughout the season.”
Berry, 24, made his professional debut May 4 against Chivas USA after veteran Cory Gibbs was lost for the season with a knee injury. Berry, drafted ninth in the first round of January’s SuperDraft, played every minute of the next 28 games, scoring 3 goals.
“I just tried to work on things and get better every single day,” he said.
Pause, 31, a defensive midfielder was chosen by the league based on fouls committed, cards received, games and minutes played and league evaluation. Pause was drafted by the Fire in 2003 out of the University of North Carolina.
I’ve always tried to represent the team well,” said Pause, emphasizing this doesn’t mean the Fire should be seen as soft in the middle of its defense. “That doesn’t necessarily mean trying to win the MLS Fair Play of the Year Award.”
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