By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The regular season is quickly approaching for the Philadelphia Union. They will open the campaign on March 8th in Portland.
The Union made several moves throughout the off-season and even once training camp began they continued to add to the roster, acquiring 25-year-old defender Austin Berry from the Chicago Fire for allocation money on Monday.
“It’s been a little crazy,” Berry tells KYW Newsradio. “But the good thing is that the guys and the coaching staff and the rest of the staff has been very welcoming. That’s made the transition a heck of a lot easier for me.”
Berry was the ninth overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Louisville and he has already shown he can play at a high level in this league. He won the MLS Rookie of the Year Award in 2012. He also did not see the deal to Philadelphia coming.
“I was actually about ready to walk out to training with the rest of the guys,” Berry says. “The coaches pulled me aside, sat me down and told me I was traded and that I had to head back to the hotel now and go pack up. So it was real abrupt and a pretty big shock.”
Berry talks about adjusting to life on the pitch with the Union.
“I really only got 30 minutes in (Wednesday night’s exhibition match with Toronto FC down in Florida) and I sat down with Coach (John) Hackworth a little bit to talk about the formation,” Berry says. “It’s a little bit different than what we were trying to do this preseason in Chicago. But, as a back line, a lot of the small things and a lot of the tendencies are really the same. It’s really the same principles that I’ve been taught since (I) was a kid being a part of a back four. So it’s just developing a relationship with (defenders) Amobi (Okugo) and Fabinho and with (goalkeeper) Zac (MacMath) and whoever else is around me. Just getting that gelling going as quickly as I can.”
Berry hails from Ohio, played his college ball in Kentucky and had spent his MLS career in Chicago prior to this deal, but he does have some familiarity with the Philadelphia area.
“In high school we had some connections up in Philadelphia and we played St. Joe’s Prep and a couple other schools over the years,” Berry says. “My girlfriend is actually from Philadelphia, up in Huntingdon Valley. So I’ve been up to visit the family a couple of times and I really like Philadelphia as a city. So that’ll make it a much easier transition as well.”
Philadelphia will return from training camp down in Florida late Saturday.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.