On Tuesday, the Columbus Crew welcomed their newest member as former USMNT defender Gregg Berhalter became the Crew’s seventh head coach and the first-ever Sporting Director in club history.
“The vision I have for Columbus is a club about community and a club about togetherness,” Berhalter said at the reveal Tuesday. “Our goal is to have a team that is successful. I am looking at the roster now and I am pleased with what I see. It’s a good group of guys. It’s a team that driven, a team that’s hungry.”
“Columbus is a young, progressive city and I think it’s a great fit for a young, progressive coach,” Crew President Mark McCullers said of his new coach.
Berhalter joins the Crew after a playing career that spanned nearly 20 years and included playing in Holland, Germany, and finishing his career in MLS at the LA Galaxy. After spending time with the Galaxy, Berhalter managed Hammarby, a Swedish Second Division club.
“My ideas about soccer are attacking-minded. I’m looking for a dynamic team that can get quickly forward and move the ball quickly. I believe in a possession-based game,” Berhalter said.
As a defender in his career, the defensive side of the game will be one in which Berhalter will look to perfect quickly. “I want an organized defense. However, I want the team to play nice, attractive football. The game revolves around holding the ball in my eyes.”
The humble Berhalter also becomes the club’s first-ever Sporting Director and will become an intricate part of the franchise, rather than just managing the team.
“I feel that having the title helps streamline decisions and bring efficiency across the staff,” Berhalter said of his role. “I think it will prepare the team in the best way possible. I am excited about the position and it will give me room to operate.”
A big selling point that Berhalter had for him was his relationship with former USMNT manager and current Galaxy head coach Bruce Arenas.
“There’s a lot to learn from Bruce,” Berhalter explained. “He has a great way of managing his players and a way of getting the best out of them. He also manages personalities very well and gets everybody to buy into their role.”
Also when asked about coaches Berhalter will look for, Columbus favorite Frankie Hejduk was suggested and Berhalter agreed that Hejduk would be a great fit to wherever he would end up in the organization.
“He has a short-term vision for getting the club back to its winning ways, but has an intermediate and long-term goal for the team. He believes in the market of Ohio and hopes to continue with the success of homegrown talent of Ohio,” Crew Investor-Operator and Chairman Anthony Precourt said of the newest coach of the Crew.