OBETZ, Ohio – With the Aug. 6 close of Major League Soccer's summer transfer window rapidly approaching, Columbus Crew head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter says he isn’t feeling the pressure to sign a new piece.
“We want to do what’s in the best interest of the club and the team,” he told reporters said after Crew training Monday. “We’re not going to be forced into any moves, and we’re going to make the right moves.”
Berhalter knows that fans might be expecting a move – especially with the Crew now sittiting atop the allocation order – and despite repeatedly touting his team’s open cap space and money to spend, he says that such outside factors don’t affect his mindset.
“It’s not really a big concern of mine; we want to do things in the right way,” he said. “And I think all the moves we’ve done so far have been to position ourselves to make the right moves, so that’s what
we’re going to look for.”
With acquisitions like Steve Clark, Michael Parkhurst, Giancarlo Gonzalez and Hector Jimenez – all huge pieces for the Crew this season – on his resume, Berhalter thinks he and the team have earned some benefit of the doubt.
“If you look at a lot of the signings that we’ve done, a lot of them have been big contributors to the team,” he said. “That’s not always the case. So I would say maybe sometimes we’re too cautious, but that cautiousness also pays off at times. The guys who are here that we brought in are playing and performing.”
That caution, he said, comes with an extensive scouting process that doesn’t leave any unknowns before a decision is made.
“An important step in the acquisition process … is being thorough and doing thorough performance checks, being able to watch the player a lot of times, and that takes time,” Berhalter said. “As you filter through, a lot of guys don’t make the grade and you have to be willing to pass on them. And we are.”
Berhalter made it a point to note that the window is only applicable to in-contract players and non-MLS players. He said that moves for either out-of-contract or MLS players could still happen after Aug. 6, which gives the team flexibility, though it needs to heavily assess players who aren’t under contract.
“There are a lot of players in Europe right now that are out of contract,” he said. “Part of our job is asking why they’re out of contract. Either they want too much money or they’re not good enough. So you have to decipher that a little bit.”
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But Berhalter still stands by his confidence that a player will arrive soon, and said that there are a variety of ways the team can go about its signings.
“In terms of the cap space, we can afford, on some guys, to take risks … as long as you don’t tie yourself up in the long term, you’re fine with that,” he said. “Then there are other pieces that you see as
long term pieces that if they’re not ready in the next three weeks or so it’s not that big of a deal … and we may be looking to bring in one of each of those guys or two of each of those players.”
In the meantime, Atlanta Silverbacks forward Deon McCaulay has been training with the team. McCaulay has scored three goals in 11 appearances with Atlanta in 2014, and scored 11 goals in 2014 World Cup qualification with the Belize national team.