Age at MLS Cup: 23
Hometown: Poway, CA
A forward selected with the 7th overall pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, Berry didn’t see any minutes with the first team in 2020 while developing behind established MLS goal scorers like Gyasi Zardes and Fanendo Adi. After scoring 38 goals in 72 appearances with the University of San Diego and spending time learning with the Crew, Columbus loaned Berry to San Diego Loyal of the USL, where he bagged three goals in seven appearances for Landon Donovan’s squad. As Josh will explain in a moment, every player on the roster matters on a championship team and Berry is doing all the right things at this stage of his career.
THROUGH JOSH’S EYES
“I just spent the last week training with him. One of the nicest guys you will ever meet. Just a great kid. I think our team is so fortunate to have young guys like him on our team because he shows up every day at training with a good attitude and is thankful to be in that situation. I can relate to that because of my first full year. I got into a couple CONCACAF games when I first signed (in 2010), but almost every week after that (until 2012), I knew I wasn’t going to have any role. It’s hard to show up in those moments and come with a good attitude every day, but you could tell he always had the right mentality about it. His job is to get better day in and day out, and to push the other guys. Whatever the coaches asked him to do, he was ready to help in any way possible. Even though he didn’t play any first team minutes this year, he was always chasing guys down in training and was always prepared to jump in for any role asked of him. Those are the types of things that don’t show up in a box score, but those are the types of guys that help a team win a championship. And those are the guys that show up one or two years down the line because they’ve put the work in. They’ve done the selfless work. And he’s another guy like Seba or Aidan who’s always putting in extra work. He’s always willing to learn.
“He impressed me because I’ve been there and I’ve seen the transformation that can happen with a player like that. He’s a really intelligent kid. I’ve talked with him about investments and stuff, so he thinks about more than just soccer. He’s not dumb. He knows he’s playing behind the best U.S. goalscorer in the league over the last three years. And then he’s playing behind a guy in Adi who had dominated the league for a few years. You need to earn your time, and if you’re behind guys like that, you really have to do something special. To me, he couldn’t have approached it better this year.
“He might not have made his debut, but his debut is coming. It’s coming. It can happen so quickly. What’s cool about my career is that I can relate to everybody’s situation, 1-30 on the roster, because I’ve filled almost every possible role you can fill on a team. When I connect with those guys (young players lower on the depth chart), I don’t even wait for them to reach out to me. I normally go to them early on and tell them that although it may seem like a daunting task, and you may need to go down to USL, which he did, and when he went down there he produced, which is exactly what you have to do. But I always tell them. ‘You never know when your number is going to be chosen, but the thing is, you have to be prepared when that moment comes because you might only get one chance. I’ve seen guys get their chance and I’ve seen it go in both directions. I’ve seen guys be prepared, and I’ve seen guys not be prepared. It works out for some and for some it doesn’t. I think your level of preparedness for that moment will dictate how your career goes.’”
[NOTE: To see a clickable list of earlier installments of this Josh Williams series or other MLS Cup related posts, please click HERE.]
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