As the victorious Columbus Crew players walked toward the Nordecke to sing “Wise Men Say" on Friday night, Miguel Berry walked ahead of the pack and heard the supporters chant his name.
It was a surreal moment for the 23-year-old, who less than two months ago was still on loan in the USL Championship on the other side of the country. Since then, though, he’s scored three goals – all against FC Cincinnati – and is a promising striker option for a team missing its starting forward.
Subbing into Friday night’s 'Hell is Real' match in the 73rd minute, Berry was lively up top, pressing the Cincinnati backline. It paid off quickly when he scored the game’s second equalizer in the 81st minute after FCC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer spilled a Lucas Zelaryán shot directly into the path of Berry, who slotted the ball into the net.
A minute later, Vermeer failed to control another Zelarayán shot, and Gustavo Vallecilla’s clearance ricocheted off a pressing Berry and floated into the goal for the game-winner.
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The goal was an unlikely one, but a pivotal moment for the Crew in 2021, as it snapped the club’s longest losing streak, sealed a win against FC Cincinnati, and got the Black & Gold on track toward making the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“I’m a striker, you have to be opportunistic, especially the way we play,” Berry said after his brace. “I’m not getting four or five chances a game … I find a way and opportunities to get on it. I saw the 'keeper spill a couple tonight and I knew I had an opportunity to follow anything that went in because I knew there were opportunities there. I did twice, and I’m thankful, but obviously need to keep working and keep making steps forward.”
In a summer of struggle for Columbus, Berry’s performances have been a welcomed addition to the attack, especially with Zardes unavailable, either through injury or international break. Kevin Molino, who scored once, will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL injury, and Bradley Wright-Phillips’ lone goal was in the 2-1 defeat against Seattle Sounders FC.
As for Berry, his goals have come in timely situations. His first was the equalizer when Columbus rallied from two goals down -- and a man down, as well -- to draw FC Cincinnati, 2-2, at TQL Stadium in early July. Then, goals Two and Three ultimately guaranteed three points over Cincinnati again on Friday at Lower.com Field.
“Those are my only three MLS goals. I think any goal in my young career, obviously, I value extremely high,” Berry said. “For me, I want to win. Scoring is obviously great, but we want to win.
“Whether it’s off my stomach or someone else scoring. Winning in the locker room, celebrating, that’s what you play for and lifting trophies at the end of the season. So, obviously, individually it feels great to score but winning is an even better feeling, so that’s what we want to do.”
Berry is only 193 minutes into his young career, but he’s scored three goals from four shots on target, and if anything, certainly speaks to an emerging forward who’s seizing his opportunities and providing crucial goals in timely moments.
When the Nordecke sang Berry’s name on Friday night, it was undoubtedly a highlight of his career.
Hopefully, that will be the first of several chants of his name through the remainder of the season.