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Marry/Boff/Kill: Austin Berry

Even after a sophomore slump, it's hard to find 2012 Rookie of the Year anything but a bargain

Here's to hoping Berry's game continues to grow in the Fire red.
Here's to hoping Berry's game continues to grow in the Fire red.

"Marry/F**k/Kill" is a game of the Internet age, and the rules are simple: name a group of three people ("Iron Man and Thor and Captain America," "Blanche, Rose or Dorothy"), and ask the crowd to choose one fate for each of them - one to partner with for good, one explored for a connection but not kept, and one cast off into the outer darkness. Fans of 30 Rock will recognize this game in its safe-for-primetime version, Marry/Boff/Kill, which name we're borrowing because we do not want SB Nation getting angry emails.

Here at Hot Time, we're going to use the game to talk about players - specifically Chicago Fire players, naturally. We're going to use it as a way to talk about the roster. It works like this: ‘Marry' indicates a willingness to keep the player regardless of cap issues or any other considerations; ‘Boff' (i.e., ‘F**k) means that we're, uhh, f**king the player over, asking for modifications to their contract or running them through the Re-Entry Draft process - we're interested but not on these terms; and ‘Kill' means terminating the player's contact with CF97.

We're going to present some kind of argument for each outcome, and let the community have their say. I mean, why not? We already have an entire week of marrying, boffing and killing under our proverbial belts, and if you missed any of it, it can all be found under our Marry/Boff/Kill Story Stream, while we examine last week's results in M/B/K: Week 1 Wrap-up.

Austin Berry, #22, 25 years old

2013: 34 appearances (all starts), 3060 minutes, 1 goal, 2 assists

Career: 62 appearances (all starts), 5580 minutes, 4 goals, 2 assists

$63,425 base salary, $78,425 guaranteed

Austin Berry's income is the kind of salary figure that boggles the mind of non-MLS fans once they hear of it - a starter for a first-division club, a lead-pipe cinch to be in the lineup, a guy who played every minute of the season, makes less than a manager of a CVS? Well, yeah. It's true. Berry struggled with the transition from Arne Friedrich's super-capable sidekick to leader, and the process is ongoing - but at that cap number, it's hard to complain.

The case to ‘Marry'

Berry is maybe the most-marriageable player on the CF97 roster, under the rules of this game. Athletic, durable, competitive and consistent, the University of Louisville product has seized hold of a starting spot in the center of defense and not let go. And at less than $80 grand a year? In top-flight football, that's a rounding error.

The case to ‘Boff'

When you're boffing someone, isn't that someone also boffing you? That'd be the case with Berry, as any attempt to fiddle with Austin's contract will result in the lad getting paid something much closer to market value for his services - $150k? $200k? - which would boff the Fire's salary-cap structure, certainly. Honestly, this cap number is too low to consider trimming; if he's not worth what he's making now, we should just cut him loose.

The case to ‘Kill'

Maybe you're one of those people who just don't think Berry's got it - that he's a great athlete who fights hard, but that his ability to read the game is almost nil, and as such will always be dependent upon the anticipation of a teammate to make him effective. Even if all of that is absolutely true - which is doubtful - wouldn't you rather have a shutdown defender who needs a certain kind partner than no shutdown defender at all? Still, playing every minute is nice, but playing every minute in the center of a defense that gave up 53 goals does at least leave the door open a crack to the critics.