So many of the early Rookie of the Year candidates have done that familiar fade; as MLS rookies are prone to do over such an uncommonly long and taxing campaign.
But not Chicago Fire rookie Austin Berry, who has remained remarkably consistent as the Chicago Fire has positioned itself for a potential top three finish in the East.
With Darren Mattocks’ hamstring injury and the Whitecaps’ recent struggles (this week’s 4-0 breakout over Chivas USA notwithstanding), the runway is clear for a Berry takeoff.
He could pretty much wrap up the honor Saturday at Red Bull Arena. There’s just this teeny-tiny little matter of shutting down one of the game’s all-time greats. But, you know, details, details.
Berry and veteran German center back Arne Friedrich will have their paws full, dealing with Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper, who is a major beneficiary of playing alongside … Thierry Henry.
Berry doesn’t actually have to shut down the Red Bulls pricey French DP. With 14 goals and 12 assists, Henry is among league leaders in both categories. And that’s despite missing nine games this year through injury, distaste for artificial turf and occasionally for being a naughty, naughty boy.
Berry just cannot have a stinker. If he can hold his own in one of the high profile games of the MLS season (it’s on NBC), then Berry can cruise into MLS awards week later this fall.
Oh, by the way, here’s what breakfast looked like around ProSoccerTalk HQ this morning. Just sayin’ …
Christian Pulisic and Clint Dempsey combined for another goal, and the USMNT leads Panama 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier Tuesday in Panama City.
A physical, chippy first half didn’t see many clear cut chances and was 0-0 after 38. minutes.
[ STREAM: Live on Telemundo Deportes ]
The first 10 minutes were a bit frenetic, with the U.S. focused on adventurous first touch passes when it managed to earn the ball from Panama.
That feel wasn’t aided by the officiating, as Cesar Ramos was inconsistent in a very physical opening half-hour.
Then, the breakthrough. Dempsey moved to within a goal of Landon donovan’s all-time mark thanks to Pulisic, who cooked Felipe Baloy and held off Roman Torres before laying off to the veteran. 1-0, 39′.
The lead lasted all of three minutes, as Gomez pounced on a loose ball with the Yanks’ back line at sixes and sevens off a long throw-in. Gomez turned off Jermaine Jones and lost Villafana to bury his chance behind Howard. 1-1, 44′.
The United States looks to finish the international break in an automatic qualifier spot in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table when it faces Panama in Panama City at 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday.
A lot of the faces are the same from the 6-0 demolition of Honduras in California on Friday, though John Brooks and Sebastian Lletget are out with injury.
Jermaine Jones replaces Lletget while Tim Ream moves into the fray for Brooks. Geoff Cameron played Friday’s match with a minor injury, and moves out of the XI for Graham Zusi.
USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Ream, Zusi; Bradley, Jones, Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore
Subs: Bingham, Rimando; Beasley, Besler, Camron, Zimmerman; Acosta, Arriola, Bedoya, Kljestan, McCarty, Pulisic; Wondolowski
Diego Reyes’ 58th minute header off a corner kick gave Mexico a lead it wouldn’t give up in a 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.
The win gives Mexico a table-topping 10 points, seven ahead of last-place T&T.
[ MORE: Honduras 1-1 Costa Rica ]
The Soca Warriors were in fine, stingy form early, and looked to have gone ahead on the counterattack when Joevin Jones belted a left-footer into the Mexico goal.
The linesman, however, ruled that Jones was offside. He almost certainly was not, as Mexico’s supreme luck in CONCACAF play continued for at least one night.
Hector Herrera hammered a shot off the far goal post early in the second half as Mexico attempted to grab control.
T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams jammed Miguel Layun’s shot over the bar moments before the breakthrough from Reyes.
Williams then saved Javier Hernandez’s 64th minute offering as Mexico looked to put three points to bed.
Joevin Jones won a free kick in the 76th minute that gave a brief moment of light to T&T’s hopes, but Jones hit the wall and Mexico cleared the ball.
Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.
Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.
[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]
Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.
With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.
Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.