A couple of newcomers are the Chicago Fire’s 2020 end-of-season award winners, the club announced today.
After winning the team’s Golden Boot honors with a team-high 12 goals, Slovenian striker Robert Beric was named the team’s Most Valuable Player for 2020. And Homegrown signing Mauricio Pineda, who led the team in minutes, is the Defensive Player of the Year.
Most Valuable Player: Robert Berić
Berić joined the Fire on Jan. 18, becoming an immediate fan favorite by downing a shot of Malort in his welcome video. Berić scored the team’s first goal of the season in the 2-1 loss in Seattle, and netted another against the Sounders in the opening match of the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando. After a dry spell that saw him go scoreless for several games, he caught fire, leading MLS in goals scored from Sept. 1 to Nov. 8, with 10. His 12 total goals were good for second in the league, tied with Columbus’ Gyasi Zardes and Seattle’s Raul Ruidiaz, only two behind league leader Diego Rossi of LAFC. Berić is the ninth player in club history to lead the team in scoring during their first year with the Fire.
Defensive Player of the Year: Mauricio Pineda
After four years away at the University of North Carolina, the Fire’s new leaders were able to convince Mauricio Pineda to sign with the club where he starred as a youth player, and it’s a good thing they did. Pineda was a rock on Chicago’s backline, starting all 23 matches, and leading the team in minutes played with 2,022. He became the first Homegrown to start every match of the season as a rookie, and Pineda is the first Homegrown to win an end-of-season award. On the attack, Pineda scored three goals, good for third on the team behind Beric and Fabian Herbers.
It was a bad year for the Fire, but it’s hard to argue with either choice. Berić and Pineda were both bright spots during an otherwise tough season.