The central conundrum: Hackworth weighs in on the Berry-Wheeler debate
|Austin Berry, here jumping against Portland's Diego Valeri in the season opener, |
finds himself on the bench behind Aaron Wheeler in the Union's
center-back pecking order. (AP)
In full (asides and all), here is the answer Hackworth gave when I asked the question of the pecking order between Wheeler and Berry:
“I don’t think there’s a definitive answer for that because you have Aaron Wheeler, who’s played well. Being very honest – and I told Aaron this during the first half against Houston – he needed to be more aggressive. He needed to assert himself more. And he did a great job of that toward the end of the first half, and he continued to do that in the second half. You get a shutout as a team, and deal with an opponent in Houston who kind of like us came away from their previous game against New England, just they were going to go out and take shots from everywhere. And we defended pretty well as a group.
“My point is thought that Aaron has done well in the minutes that he’s played, and because we’ve had a positive result like getting a shutout and doing it against a team like Houston that was going to come out firing, I think Aaron is still the first choice. And Austin, and there’s other guys like Ethan White, who need to continue to work hard in training to see if they get that opportunity.”
So there you have it: Wheeler is the Union’s first-choice center back until further notice. The fact that in 2012, Wheeler was a forward in the Finnish second division while Berry was MLS rookie of the year as a central defender in Chicago is of no consequence in the debate, however interesting the sentence might read.
What is important for the Union and Hackworth is how they’ve stacked up this season. From what we’ve seen, there’s little separating the two. Wheeler has started five games, including the last two and five of the last six, while Berry has gotten three starts, finishing each game but the New England match, in which Wheeler spelled him for what goes a split clean sheet between them, I suppose. (Wheeler also played the final three minutes of the Portland game in a pseudo-defensive capacity; we’ll ignore that for this evaluation.)
So here are the raw numbers this season:
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