No Fear From Berhalter

New coach continues to lead the Crew with aggressive tactics
by Al DiFranco   |   Tuesday, April 08, 2014

John Hefti Photography - Columbus Crew, Labor Strike, MLS, SoccerNewsdayWhen the Columbus Crew brought in new head coach Gregg Berhalter, they stepped into another level of offensive aggression. And positive results have shown that Berhalter's substitution moves might be the right thing for this team.

But the Columbus Crew suffered its first loss of the 2014 season, dropping Saturday night’s match to Toronto FC by a 2-0 score. Goals by Michael Bradley (11th minute) and Issey Nakajima-Farran (85th minute) gave Toronto its third victory in 4 matches this season. The Crew fell to 3-1, matching its northern rival.

Columbus made some very interesting subs in this match. In the 67th minute, Justin Meram came on for Josh Williams. In the 74th minute, Jairo Arrieta entered for Tony Tchani. In the 81st minute, it was Ethan Finlay replacing Dominic Oduro. That was 3 forwards coming in for a defenseman, defensive midfielder and forward.

This continued a trend with first-year head coach Gregg Berhalter – making moves without fear. Against Seattle Sounders FC last week, Berhalter brought in 2 forwards – Meram and Finlay – to replace midfielders in the second half to help key a last-second victory (Meram scored the game-winner deep into extra time).

The biggest criticisms thrown the Crew’s direction after hiring Berhalter were focused on the reason he was removed from his most recent head coaching position – lack of offensive production and strategy. Some worried his style would not cure the Crew’s biggest weakness in recent years – scoring goals.

Through 4 matches, the Crew has tallied 7 goals. This 1.75 goals per match average is much better than last year’s 1.2 goals per MLS match total. Some of this has to be credited to Berhalter’s strategic deployment of Federico Higuain in the center of the attack, as well as his aggressive substitutions in recent weeks.

Moves like the ones made on Saturday night can make you susceptible to counter attack, which gave Toronto its second goal, but it shows that you aren’t afraid to go for it. This will endear Berhalter to his players, and likely make him a fan favorite assuming the Crew win more than it loses.

NEXT UP: April 13 – Columbus Crew vs. San Jose Earthquakes, Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara, California, 3 p.m. EST, TWC SportsChannel, MLS Live.


Ohio State
Club Domestic:
Columbus Crew
Club Foreign:
AC Milan, Everton
Passionate fan of the USMNT, Al is a member of the Cleveland Chapter of the American Outlaws. He also loves to follow and discuss Premier League and Serie A. Named his daughter Mia after a certain soccer legend.