Despite missing out on his transfer window targets and losing Giancarlo Gonzalez to Italian club Palermo, Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter has been consistent in saying that he doesn’t feel the need to add any players to his club’s roster.
And while other teams around the league continue to make signings, Berhalter isn’t concerned with his competitors, and doesn’t seem to be looking around the league for acquisitions.
“The challenge with comparing yourself to other rosters or looking at players on other rosters is that in general, the guys that you like and the guys that you think can help you, you’re never going to get from an MLS team,” he said after Crew training Tuesday. “There’s such little movement. We’ve tried with some guys, and the conversation ends at ‘hello,’ basically.”
Berhalter said he does look at the Crew in comparison to other teams, those roster comparisons are trumped by the Crew playing their brand of soccer.
“You’re always comparing your team to what’s out there, because that’s the group that you’re competing with, so I think that’s perfectly normal,” he said. “But what we’ve tried to do is focus on ourselves and give our team the confidence to execute our game plan and the other team will have a hard time adapting to the way we play.
“We’ve done that against everyone so far. We haven’t changed the way we play for any team this year. I think that’s a compliment to this group.”
The Crew are locked in a dogfight for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, and in the last week, direct competitors the New England Revolution have added two pieces, including Designated Player and US international Jermaine Jones.
Berhalter acknowledges that the moves make the Revolution more dangerous, but isn’t letting that affect him.
“Do I think New England is better today than they were a couple days ago? Of course,” he said. “Jermaine Jones was one of our best players at the World Cup, so of course they’re improved and of course we see that as a threat. That’s normal. But we also feel that if we play our game, we can beat every team in the league.”
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Berhalter admitted he’s still looking for players, though he’s not sure if anything will get done.
“We want to add guys, let’s not sugarcoat this, we do,” he said. “But it has to be the right guy. And I’m not going to be forced into adding someone who we’re not comfortable with.”
Where do the Crew go from here with no imminent signings?
“What we’ve been doing is focusing on this group and focusing on how we can get the most out of these guys that are here,” Berhalter said. “We’re focusing on our guys and improving them and getting them to figure out how we play to get the most out of them.”