It’s been exactly one year since Robert Beric choked down a shot of Malort, endearing himself to Chicago Fire fans before he even played a match for the club.
The Slovenian striker joined from Saint-Etienne on Jan. 18, 2020, filling the first of three Designated Player openings for the Fire. He had an up-and-down 2020 season that finished on a really strong note. His 12 goals were good for second in Major League Soccer, tied with Gyasi Zardes and Raul Ruidiaz, two behind Golden Boot winner Diego Rossi.
Beric scored in the season opener in Seattle, and went “beast-mode” with a fantastic goal—again against the Sounders—to open the MLS is Back tournament. Then things got tough—Beric failed to score in the final two matches at the tournament, and then went goalless in five more matches after the regular season resumed. He finally got on the board in a draw with Columbus in early September, and never looked back, becoming the hottest goal scorer in MLS for the final two months of the regular season.
When he signed, some fans were familiar with Beric, but he certainly didn’t have nearly the name recognition of a player like Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who made headlines as MLS’s biggest off-season acquisition when he signed with the LA Galaxy. Chicharito managed just one goal in a dismal season for LA, and Beric finished as the runner up for the MLS Newcomer of the Year award, narrowly losing to Columbus Crew star Lucas Zelarayan.
What will 2021 hold for the Slovenian? We’ll see. He’ll be missing the player who assisted a big chunk of his goals—Djordje Mihailovic—who was dealt to Club de Foot Montreal. But, with another year in Raphael Wicky’s system, and another year to settle into live in the U.S., hopefully Beric has an even bigger 2021.
What do you think? Is Beric living up to his contract as a DP striker? And, can he manage to build on his first season with an even stronger 2021? Let us know in the comments.