Rookie Rankings: Fire's Berry rules roost after steady climb

Austin Berry, Rookie Rankings

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Each week during the 2012 season, MLSsoccer.com's editors will cast their votes for the frontrunners, contenders and dark horses for MLS Rookie of the Year. By way of a virtuoso rookie campaign, Sporting Kansas City's C.J. Sapong took home the award in 2011, leaving a new crop of rookies to fight for the top honor handed out to first-year pros in Major League Soccer.

Chicago appear to be mounting a challenge to Sporting KC and New York in the Eastern Conference, and Austin Berry is helping lead the charge. Now, Berry finds himself atop the MLSsoccer.com Rookie Rankings, the result of a steady climb from reserve to integral part of the Fire defense.

As a result of the young center back's move to the top of the charts, Vancouver's Darren Mattocks vacated the No. 1 spot, which he had held for weeks, while both the Red Bulls' Connor Lade and Toronto FC's Luis Silva move up a spot each. With FC Dallas' Matt Hedges rounding out the top five, the group didn't change from the last edition of the rankings.

Who do you think deserves to be top of the heap? Make your voice heard by voting in the poll to the right!

Only MLS regular-season games reflected on schedule and statistics. All times are Eastern.

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Austin Berry

Just like his integration into the Fire lineup, Berry took the slow and steady road to the top of the MLSsoccer.com Rookie Rankings. But after 17 consecutive starts for Frank Klopas, it's time to give the young center back his due. He's been a perfect compliment to Arne Friedrich, and another goal – this one a winner vs. TFC – cements his place atop of this week's chart.

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Darren Mattocks

Mattocks helped the 'Caps an important 2-1 victory at Real Salt Lake a week ago before leaving for his first taste of international duty with Jamaica, playing 36 minutes as a substitute. Although his production has dropped a bit recently, one goal and one assist in Vancouver's last six, Rennie will certainly lean on the 21-year-old down the stretch.

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Connor Lade

Houston's Macoumba Kandji tore up the Red Bulls backline in a 2-0 win on Aug. 3. A week later, New York welcomed the Dynamo to Red Bull Arena with Lade at right back, walking away with their own 2-0 victory as the diminutive rookie put in a feisty 90 minutes shoving the taller Kandji around. At this point, Lade is almost a guarantee in Hans Backe's XI.

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Luis Silva

Since being reinserted in Toronto's starting lineup in early July, Silva has three goals and two assists in six matches. And after his midweek performance against Portland, one that prompted Eric Hassli to call him the best young player in MLS, the UC Santa Barbara product has plenty of confidence to draw on through the rest of the regular season and CCL campaign.

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Matt Hedges

Hedges may have dropped, but that's simply the result of those around him putting in eye-catching performances. Meanwhile, while Ugo Ihemelu continues to recover from concussion symptoms, the young center back and George John have anchored an FCD defense that is starting to come around. To wit, Dallas are 4-2-1 since the beginning of July.

Also receiving votes: Nick DeLeon, Raymon Gaddis, Ryan Meara, Kelyn Rowe, Bryan Gaul, Antoine Hoppenot, Andy Rose, Alex Caskey