Crew play­ers like Ber­hal­ter’s work with US team

The Columbus Dispatch - - Sports - By Ja­cob My­ers The Colum­bus Dis­patch

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.

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