Crew players like Berhalter’s work with US team
As Gregg Berhalter pored over the intricacies of his system with the U.S. men’s national soccer team during its winter training camp, it was all familiar to Gyasi Zardes, Wil Trapp and Zack Steffen, who played for Berhalter with Crew SC.
It caused other national team members to ask them,
“This is what you had for five years in Columbus?” That one exchange Trapp outlined Sunday after the Crew had its training session at Ohio Dominican explains why there were reports from
the national team camp of the stark contrast between the direction of USMNT under previous management versus Berhalter and his staff.
The coach who made four Major League Soccer playoffs in five seasons in Columbus still has an obsessive attention to detail, but it’s on a grander stage now.
“He’s so cerebral in how he thinks about the game,” Trapp said. “His staff is fantastic, and now he’s being able
to stretch himself with new players, with new ideas.”
Berhalter is off to a good start with wins against Panama and Costa Rica.
Trapp, Steffen and Zardes trained with the Crew and new coach Caleb Porter for the first time Sunday after spending January and the first few days of February with the national team. Steffen and Zardes started against Panama and Costa Rica, while Trapp
started in the latter and appeared in both.
There was a level of familiarity in training with the national team for the trio because of the way Berhalter operates, but it required an adjustment for other national team members.
“We obviously, like I said, knew what to expect a little bit, but his level of detail, his execution on points and principles of the game, it’s incredible,” Trapp said. “It was great to see the momentum we built already in the first two games.”
It’s safe to say that Berhalter has generated excitement around the national team to a level it hasn’t had in awhile.
Granted, hiring a coach after more than a year with an interim coach was always going to boost the base supporters. But Trapp and Steffen said there’s a new level of seriousness Berhalter exhibited with the national team.
“It’s a level higher and you really have to be on at every moment,” Steffen said. “I think Gregg — knowing Gregg — he pushes Wil, Gyasi and I even harder there and expects more from us there.”
For the Crew specifically, Trapp said Porter has a lot of similar concepts to what Berhalter was trying to do in his time. Of course, Porter will put his own spin on things and make the style of play his own, but Trapp and Zardes are not having to adjust to completely new tactics when going back and forth between the clubs.
The next time the Crew will likely be without Trapp, Zardes and Steffen is the first 2019 FIFA international window March 18-26. Until then, they will be a major asset to stimulating a potential strong start to Porter’s new job, like they did with Berhalter.
“I think it’s a great start,” Trapp said.