The Chicago Fire lost prime goalscorer, Nemanja Nikolic, at the end of last season. Can newly acquired DP Robert Beric fill the void?
The consistent goal-scoring of Nemanja Nikolic routinely rescued the Chicago Fire. Even with a dip in form in 2019, the Hungarian center-forward was one of the best natural goalscorers in MLS and could routinely score goals without getting many chances or touches of the ball. But in 2020, the Chicago Fire will have to go it alone.
After a three year career in MLS, Nikolic left the club at the end of the 2019 campaign. As a result, the Fire went after a striker in the offseason to replace him, eventually signing Robert Beric from Saint-Etienne of Ligue 1.
Nikolic had three seasons of 10 goals or more. In 2017, he recorded an impressive 24 goals in 34 appearances during the regular season and won the MLS Golden Boot award. There is no question he was a talented striker who helped the Fire a great deal.
Beric is now tasked with providing the Fire with the goals they need to remain competitive in MLS this year. The 28-year-old Slovenian enters the league at a similar age to that of when Nikolic entered the scene for the Fire, but his long career in European leagues has produced mixed results.
Beric’s goal-scoring slowed down this season with just one goal in the French top flight, but then there are seasons like the 2014/15 campaign when he scored 27 goals in 33 appearances for Rapid Vienna in the Austrian Bundesliga.
Beric has shown in the past that he has the ability to put the ball into the back of the net on a consistent basis. But when playing in Ligue 1, a top-five European league, he never had the same consistent production.
More from MLS Multiplex
- Javier Milei Elected in Argentina: Potential Impacts on MLS and Signings of Argentine Players
- Orlando City and New York City FC in the Battle for Matías Arezo; Grêmio Enters Negotiations! Who Will Come Out on Top?
- USA, Honduras, Panama, and Canada Close in on a Spot in the 2024 Copa America
- De Gea Turns Down Al-Nassr’s Lucrative Offer: Speculation Points to Possible Reunion with Messi at Inter Miami
- Messi’s Magnetic Impact in the United States
Arguably his best season in the French top flight was the 2018/19 season when he scored nine goals in 23 appearances. It is not a terrible haul, but Beric is not exactly lighting the world on fire. He was unable to reach double-digit goals in a Ligue 1 season.
One important transition Beric will have to make is to the consistent playing time he will receive. He was primarily used as a substitute for Saint-Etienne this season. Now, he will have to go from being a reliable substitute to a reliable starter, and they are very different roles.
It should be conceded that Beric’s goal-scoring numbers might not tell the full story of what he was capable of producing given his lack of consistent playing time. That consistent playing time might reveal a season more like what he displayed in the Austrian Bundesliga. So, there is reason to hope that he can put up big numbers for the Chicago Fire in a lesser-quality MLS.
If all goes well for Beric and the Fire, he should score over 10 goals. However, to expect a 24-goal campaign like Nikolic produced in his first year in MLS might be a little unreasonable. Nevertheless, the Chicago Fire struggled to convert chances last season, and Beric is the man, they hope, to turn the tide.