For the last six years, Gregg Berhalter and Wil Trapp have been around as Josh Wolff grew from former player to trusted assistant coach to national team assistant coach to, now, Austin FC's first-ever manager.
Berhalter, as head coach of Columbus Crew SC, added Wolff to his staff ahead of the 2014 season. Trapp, a Homegrown signing for the Crew, made his debut the season prior and is now captain of the club. The pair are ecstatic for Wolff in getting the chance with Austin, one they feel is well earned.
They are also highly qualified to explain just why they believe Wolff is the right person for Austin FC.
“I always like to talk about that you need a way to play," Berhalter told MLSsoccer.com this week. "It needs to be clear in your mind, then you need to have a way to teach it and a way to train it. Those things with Josh are very closely linked. That’s an important part of coach’s development."
Added Trapp: “He’s a constant learner, his knowledge for the game is insatiable. On top of that, he does an amazing job connecting with players, making information consumable to whatever position you’re in. He does a wonderful job at that. That’s what’s going to make him a successful head coach — not only does he have the knowledge, he has the temperament and personality to garner respect from his players.”
Berhalter, only three years Wolff's senior, spent a lot of time together during the coaches' own playing careers, both with the US national team and 1860 Munich. Berhalter always knew that Wolff saw the game at the very highest level.
“The thing about Josh which was underrated was his intelligence as a player. It was one thing that really stood out, his intelligence of movement and how he read the game. That shows his intellect, that’s prepared him for his next step."
During their time together in Columbus, the trio made the playoffs in four of their five seasons, including a trip to MLS Cup in 2015. With the national team, Trapp was a part of the team that just finished runners-up at the Gold Cup this year.
“He was more cerebral," Trapp said. "He has a great temperament, an ability to be calm. In the moments necessary, he’ll raise his voice and say what he needs to say. But more often than not, he’s assessing and evaluating in a very calm, objective manner. That’s what I think makes him very strong in his position. He can problem solve.”
Wolff benefitted from working under Berhalter and is ready for the next step. Trapp and his former teammates can't wait to see what nuances Wolff adds to his game.
“Gregg is an infectious character in how he thinks about the game, always trying to get better and devise new strategies," Trapp said. "Wolffy fell right into that mold and has taken it up in a way that brought players’ respect to him. What’s most exciting for all the former players is to watch now is how can he evolve some of the things he did in Columbus, the national team and make it his own. I’m so excited to see how he works.”