Not to belie some of Robert Beric's more nuanced qualities — or any striker, for that matter — but even the forward himself knows the key reason he was signed: Goals.
Beric joined Chicago Fire FC this winter, part of their unprecedented transformation on and off the field. He was the first of three new Designated Players to arrive, signing with Chicago after a fine European stint with various clubs including Ligue 1's Saint-Etienne. His form and ability convinced Chicago's new decision-makers, including sporting director Georg Heitz and head coach Raphael Wicky, that he was the man to lead their attack.
Or, breaking it down even simpler: The guy who'd put the ball in the back of the net.
“I mean, I’m a striker so pretty much (Wicky is) expecting me to score goals,” Beric told MLSsoccer.com last week only partly in jest. “I have high hopes that I’ll show why they brought me here. The coach knows me from (Europe), he understands how I play. He wants to take the best from me that he can.”
Beric's first two starts were encouraging.
The Slovenia international scored once and provided plenty of support with solid hold-up play, defensive shape and darting runs.
The Fire were working to integrate a number of new key signings at the time of MLS's suspension of play due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fellow DP Gaston Gimenez made one cameo from the bench, while the club's third DP Ignacio Aliseda is yet to debut.
Now, facing reigning MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders on Tuesday (9 am ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes, TSN), the Fire hope to turn positive moments into a positive result.
“We have a good team," Beric said. "I think we can be a surprise this year and next year. We’ll see. Hopefully we’ll show this on the pitch.”
Off the field, Beric is settling in as best as he can despite not being able to bring his family over from Europe. His teammates and the club have made it easy for him to focus as much as he can on soccer.
“It was much easier than previous transfers," Beric admitted. "I speak English and my teammates have accepted me really well. I can’t say I was surprised; I’ve liked it. ... Everything is well organized; Chicago is very well organized. When you have everything as a soccer player provided for you, you get to think about soccer and nothing else. It’s all been positive.”
Still, he's looking forward to truly integrating to his new home.
“I didn’t even have a chance to explore the city," Beric said. "For me, Chicago is pretty much a ghost town right now. I’m still waiting to know the real Chicago, all the cool places. Hopefully this can happen soon.”