With the Conference Finals now in the past and the Houston Dynamo and LA Galaxy set to meet in the MLS Cup Final for the second straight year, the league has begun to hand out individual awards. The first award was announced today, and the other awards will be announced over the next two weeks. The Rookie Of the Year Award, as voted on by people who don’t actually watch soccer, was given to defender Austin Berry of the Chicago Fire.
Berry won the award over Nick DeLeon, the D.C. United midfielder who earned six goals and four assists in 28 games during the regular season. DeLeon was an important part of a United team that flew under-the-radar all season en route to a third place overall finish in MLS. His vision and his touch were huge benefits to D.C. this year, but his mid-season slump may have prevented DeLeon from garnering enough media attention to capture the award. Cutting his hair was terrible marketing decision, so that probably didn’t help either.
Berry scored three goals for the Fire in 28 starts, which is quite an impressive feat for a rookie. He collected 57% of the media vote and 32% of the player vote for the award. Berry and DeLeon were college teammates at Louisville and both were taken in the first round of the MLS Superdraft in January.
Had the award included postseason play, there’s no doubt in my mind that DeLeon would have won in a landslide. Berry’s team crashed out in the first round while DeLeon scored two goals for United, one in each series against the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo.
Berry might be able to add 2012 MLS Rookie Of The Year to his resume. But he’ll never have a moment like this: