BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – This is Austin Berry's big chance. And he's well aware of it.
With starting center back Jalil Anibaba serving a red-card suspension, the door has opened – if by default – for the rookie out of Louisville to make the first start of his MLS career on Friday at Chivas USA (11 pm ET, ESPN Deportes).
“I feel ready,” Berry said. “I had a strong part of the preseason and beginning part of the season. I’m getting better every day and the coaching staff and rest of the team is helping me grow.”
Former German international Arne Friedrich will join Berry in the middle of the Chicago defense. The two-time World Cup veteran has emphasized a need for improved communication during his six weeks with the team. The Fire have given up five goals in Friedrich’s first three starts.
With a rookie in the fold, that emphasis on communication will heighten.
“I told him before, normally, he’s a quiet and shy guy, but on the pitch he has to scream,” Friedrich told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday after practice.
“Sometimes we have to communicate more, and especially louder because we are new teammates and we don’t know each other that well that we can play without any talking. This is what we have to improve, and I guess it’s one of the reasons why we’ve given up so many goals.”
Berry doesn’t think that will be a problem. He knows that having a player next to him with Friedrich’s knowledge of the game will only help him.
“That’s one of my stronger points,” Berry said. “That’s something I’ve always tried to work on is organization and communication and it’s going to have Arne next to me. He’s a guy that’s big on communication, and he’s a world-class player, so that’s always going to be helpful.”