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Fire Mon Feb 24 2014
In 2012 when the Chicago Fire were campaigning for Austin Berry to be named the MLS Rookie of the Year, mocked-up cereal boxes featuring his face and statistics were sent out to members of the media. This was as much a move done to highlight Berry as to showcase the newly-forged partnership between the team and the Quaker Oats Company, and as such they used one of Quaker's cereal boxes.
It is now oddly poetic to look back at these promotional materials, to see Berry looking the very quintessence of a defender: stoic, impregnable, a statue of a sportsman; for today he is a Fire player no longer, traded to the Philadelphia Union for allocation money. There is innate truth, humor, and a wry sadness to be found when viewing this through the crooked lens of time. Using Life as the cereal of choice must have seemed sound at the time, an evocation of the vim and vigor on display in Berry who made the transition from college standout to first team mainstay remarkably easily, but now it is like laughter echoing from another room. The revolving door that is professional sports has been pushed, but then, such is Life.
There are many reasons for the trade, chief of which being the need to clear up salary cap space for Mike Magee who could potentially be holding out for a bigger contract this spring. Magee is due his share of spoils for the career year he had in 2013, and will hopefully have for the Men in Red this year. In the end the organization simply could not find a way more elegant to both juggle oranges and eat them at the same time, to rephrase a cliche. In the end Berry was the most marketable asset that the Fire had to deal, and the recent acquisitions of defenders Patrick Ianni and Jhon Kennedy-Hurtado made it easier justify the sale. Berry's presence will surely be missed, not just on the field but off, where he was recognized enough to have been enshrined in bobblehead form. From an organizational standpoint it makes sense, with MLS still operating in a single-entity structure the salary cap will always force teams to make moves that seemingly don't make sense to the lay fan. In the end our only hope is that the space freed up by Berry's departure will allow the team to renegotiate "Little Mikey" Magee's contract such that, hopefully in the end, he likes it.