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Nov 202013

Once again, I feel the need to say something before I get to want I actually want to say.

Hindsight will ultimately prove whether or not Gregg Berhalter’s time in Columbus is successful. All I can do is react to news when it comes in. My reactions are going to be strong because this is a pivotal time in the Crew’s history and I want to see them hit a proverbial home run with this transition to a new owner, new coach, and (possibly) new logo/”brand”.

So with that in mind…I have serious concerns about both Asher Mendelsohn and Josh Wolff. Let’s start with the former.

Here’s what we know for sure: Asher Mendelsohn is the new Director of Soccer Operations for the Columbus Crew. What does that mean?

According to’s write up about the hire,”Mendelsohn is tasked with overseeing the Crew’s competition guidelines and salary cap management, player identification and acquisitions, as well as assisting with the implementation of the club’s technical vision.”

So it’s safe to assume that Mendelsohn was hired because his previous jobs/experiences have given him an eye for talent. He should be able to not only identify good players, but also have enough knowledge of MLS salary cap restrictions/rules to ensure that said good players can be brought in at the best possible price. Not only does he have to identify good, affordable players, but he also has to do so with Berhalter’s long term vision in mind. He has to get all of the Crew academy teams to start recruiting and training players the way Berhalter sees fit.

How can we tell if he’s qualified for such a position? Let’s take a look at his previous jobs. A quick search of LinkedIn will give us his entire employment history over the past 10 years. From 2003-05 he was a Project Manager for concession giants Aramark. Then he joined the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) in 2005 as a Member Services Coordinator. At some point in that role he helped start the US Development Academy that is now the premier competition for youth clubs across the country and went on to serve as the Development Academy Manager from 2007-10. Ever since then he has served as Director of Referees, Coaching Administration and Development Academy Programs where he had a hand in creating everyone’s favorite referee oversight organization: PRO.

At first glance these sound like purely administrative roles to me. I don’t see anything in there to suggest he has an eye for identifying talented soccer players or signing them to MLS contracts. In his most recent role, it would seem he was the boss (the Big Cheese, the Head Honcho) of not one, not two, but THREE very unique areas; each with its own unique challenges. Rarely in sports (or any industry really) do we see a person assume the role of Head Coach AND General Manager and have sustained success. It’s true that most European managers handle the responsibilities of both, but MLS roster rules are so convoluted you have to devote all your time and energy to understanding them. My point is: I don’t see how Mendelsohn could have possibly had a ton of success running three very different aspects of US Soccer. If you’ll recall from the press conference announcing Berhalter’s hire, Anthony Precourt said Berhalter came highly recommended from people within US Soccer circles. Well, lo and behold we have a bit of a “US Soccer legacy hire” in the form of Mendelsohn. And this brings us to the other hire from Wednesday.

Josh Wolff and Gregg Berhalter go way back as players for both club and country. Wolff spent the 2013 season as an assistant under Ben Olsen at DC United. Berhalter and Precourt have both praised Wolff for his playing career as a striker, but if we take his first season under Olsen at face value things don’t exactly look promising. DC United scored just 22 goals in 34 regular season games. That’s 0.65 goals per game. Yes, the team in general was terrible this year but they did make a run through the playoffs in 2012 and brought back a lot of the players from that team.

So we step back and see that Mendelsohn is now in charge of scouting and player development despite no hands on experience in either department and Josh Wolff is being hailed as a man who can help the team produce more goals despite his previous team scoring 0.65 per game in his only season as an assistant coach. Not only that, but both of these hires come from people who are close with Berhalter not just professionally, but personally as well. When you start hiring your friends and hiring people as favors or on the recommendations of people already close to you, it rarely tends to work out well.

Waylon Francis

It’s also being reported that the Crew have signed Herediano (Costa Rica) left back Waylon Francis. This was first reported a while back but was denied by the team. Now the team is neither confirming nor denying the report. I’m too lazy to post the highlight video I found of him but my initial overreaction is that he’s a slightly above average left back. He’s fast and likes to get forward and he seems to have a reliable first touch and makes very few mistakes while under pressure.

Whether he’s going to replace Agustin Viana as the No.1 left back remains to be seen.

Adam Uthe

VP of Content Development for GFT and proud supporter of Columbus Crew (MLS) and Liverpool FC (EPL). @AUtheGFT

  One Response to “Gregg Berhalter Adds Asher Mendelsohn, Josh Wolff To Columbus Crew Staff”

  1. Columbus will really like Wolff. Part of the scoring problem with D.C. was injuries but the other problem was there was a complete change in attackers. Take a look at Jared Jeffrey and Luis Silva and look at how those two players changed from the previous two clubs (Mainz 05 and Toronto F.C.) and you will see some slight differences that could give you an indication of his philosophy. Even though the club still struggled to score, the shot selection was much better than when D.C. was using Lionard Pajoy and Carlos Ruiz, older players who were less malleable to ideas from coaches.

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