CHICAGO (Nov. 16, 2020) – Chicago Fire FC today announced the Club’s 2020 award winners, naming forward Robert Berić the 2020 Most Valuable Player and defender/midfielder Mauricio Pineda the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year. Pineda, who is a product of the Chicago Fire Academy, is the first Homegrown Player in Club history to win an end-of-season team award. Berić also earned 2020 Golden Boot honors after scoring a team-high 12 goals during the MLS regular season.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER/GOLDEN BOOT: Berić was acquired as a Designated Player via transfer from AS Saint-Étienne on Jan. 18. He made an immediate impact in his first season with the Club, scoring in the team’s first match of the regular season against reigning champions Seattle Sounders FC on March 1. The Slovenian led the team with 12 goals, which tied him for second place in the 2020 MLS Golden Boot race, behind LAFC forward Diego Rossi and tied with Columbus Crew SC forward Gyasi Zardes and Seattle Sounders FC forward Raúl Ruidíaz. Ten of his 12 goals were scored from Sept. 1 – Nov. 8, which was the most in the league during that stretch. Berić is the ninth player in Club history to lead the team in scoring during their first year with the Fire. Additionally, he finished the season tied for the most appearances on the team, featuring in each of the Club’s 23 regular season matches (22 starts).
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Pineda was named Chicago’s Defensive Player of the Year after a stellar rookie season. The Bolingbrook, Ill. native was a consistent presence on the backline, registering a team-high 2,022 minutes. With 23 starts in 2020, Pineda became the first Homegrown Player in Club history to start in every match of the season during a rookie campaign. He and midfielder Álvaro Medrán were the only players on the team to notch 23 starts this season. Pineda was also third highest on the team in touches (1,458) and interceptions (34). On the attacking end, he dished out two assists and scored three goals, including the game-winner in the Fire’s 2-1 win against reigning champions Seattle Sounders FC in the MLS is Back Tournament on July 14.