Berry and Friedrich

Arne Friedrich's absence felt by Fire rookie defender

For the 10th time in 12 games this season, the Chicago Fire fell behind in their 2-1 loss to Columbus on Saturday. But unlike their three wins in May, in which they also allowed the first goal, they couldn’t recover this time.

“We came out there a little lazy, and I think we let the heat get to us a little bit,” defender Austin Berry told after the match. “We had energy at halftime and we didn’t feel like the game was out of our hands. We gave up two soft goals, and I thought we pushed pretty well in the second.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Columbus 2, Chicago 1

The Fire gave up the first goal in the ninth minute when Eddie Gaven’s shot from outside the penalty area beat goalkeeper Sean Johnson to the near post. In the 44th minute, Emilio Rentería took down Berry, who was lunging for the ball, with a quick turn in the box and beat Johnson.

“I feel like that was me trying to clear the ball instead of just standing Rentería up,” Berry said. “He uses his body well, and he was able to stay on his feet. Next time I need to just stay behind him, keep him away from the goal instead of diving in behind him.”

The Fire have been a little more vulnerable in the back during the last four games, when Arne Friedrich been out with a hamstring injury. Friedrich’s absence leaves Berry, a rookie, and second-year defender Jalil Anibaba to man the middle of the Chicago defense.


Berry thinks that the pair will be fine given some more time together. But there is something missing without the German World Cup veteran.

“He’s got that experience factor that me and Jalil just don’t quite have,” Berry said. “He’s obviously been playing the game for such a long time at a high level, that there are things that he sees differently than me and Jalil do. We think at some point we’ll get there.”

After the mistake, Berry was able to redeem himself by scoring a goal of his own in the 72nd minute. But that didn’t satisfy him.

“I always like to help out, but first and foremost, my job is to try to keep shutouts,” Berry said. “I need to get more in tune with that and get that done on my end. We’re a team that’s good enough offensively that, if we keep a shutout, we’ll be able to win games.”