COLUMBUS, Ohio – At his introductory press conference on Tuesday, new Columbus Crew head coach and director of soccer Gregg Berhalter joked that he expected to escape the brisk climate of Sweden – where he spent the past two years as the head coach of Hammarby IF – by making his way to the Midwest.
"I guess that's not going to happen," he said with a chuckle.
From there, though, he was all business.
The new Crew boss had been spending spending time with Spanish La Liga giants FC Barcelona when he was announced as the team's head coach last Wednesday, and has only spent a few days with his new team. But Berhalter says he's spoken to each member of the Crew roster, and has already had a busy start to the week.
"I've been looking at the roster, looking at the salary cap, we've been preparing for the preseason next year, and looking at potential staff members," Berhalter said. "It's been a busy week, and we're trying to get organized and move forward.
"The month is going to come quickly, in terms of what things to do. There's a lot to get done, but first and most importantly was analyzing the roster, and looking at what we need to do for next year."
Though his sporting director designation allows for more power to deal with personnel choices, Berhalter says he is hoping to assemble his staff quickly to make roster decisions in a timely manner.
"That's why we're working on [assembling a staff]," he said. "[Making roster decisions alone] won't be impossible, and I have a good idea of the players already and, thankfully, there's not too many hard decisions to make. I feel like I'm pretty confident with the roster right now, in terms of those decisions."
Club chairman and investor-operator Anthony Precourt seems to be trying to balance his desire to work with Berhalter and the knowledge that the coach is in the process of moving to another country and starting his job as leader of a new club. Despite the fact that Precourt says the two "text each other 24-7," the owner is still reveling in his first major hire at the helm.
"He's very busy right now, and we've got a lot of ideas for him," Precourt told MLSsoccer.com after the press conference. "This is the first kind of key offseason move for the club, and one of the first big moves for Precourt Sports Ventures and myself as the new Investor-Operator.
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"So now that we've got our key man, it leads to a number of other decisions in terms of hiring a director of soccer operations, hiring assistant coaches, and starting the process of improving our first-team roster."
Berhalter still wouldn't show his cards when it comes to roster moves, and declined to mention even what type of player he was looking to bring in.
"I think that answer will reveal a little too much," he said, "a little more than I'm willing to reveal right now."