Q&A: Josh Wolff
Cody Sharrett: You have a history with Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter at the club and international levels. What made this opportunity with the Crew the right step in your coaching career?
Josh Wolff: I think you learn a lot about yourself as a player and as a coach, I think you mature on both of those fronts. Having been around Gregg as a young player and an older player, his leadership, his detail, his discipline and his commitment is as real as it gets in all those categories. That said, he has a great ambition and he's very forward thinking. He's an intellect. For where the sport is now and where it's going, those things run hand in hand. Without that, you'd be nothing.
It's a great opportunity here in Columbus. For me to be part of that, I'm excited to be on his staff.
CS: You both played together at 1860 Munich. He obviously wants to take a lot of the practices he learned playing and coaching in Europe and translate it to MLS. How does that also align with your vision as a coach?
JW: I'm a young coach, but I have my ideas as well. Those things have to evolve. As a player, you have to evolve. As a coach, you have to evolve. I think Gregg is an unbelievable student of the game. His upbringing in U.S. Soccer and playing in Holland, playing in Germany can shape that and certainly create your views of the game. With that, you create your own personality and your own identity. I think it will certainly resonate with how he can constructs his team, constructs training and the ideas, detail and discipline he'll try to implement with his team week-in and week-out.
It's a starting point. You try to create proper habits and get these guys all on the same page as quickly as possible.
CS: Gregg was a great defender as a player. You were a great forward. What will be your responsibilities in working with the attackers, especially young forwards, in your new role?
JW: Going and being a coach, you've got to remove yourself somewhat from when you were a player, but utilize all the things I felt made me who I was and the things I see are important today. I go back to trying to implement the right ideas and the right habits day-in and day-out. For strikers and wingers, those things vary. You have to have a vision in mind and you try to implement those things as often as you can. Again, you want it to become habitual and instinctual with these guys. That comes through repetition. It comes from watching video. It comes from doing it on the field.
It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of tedious detail, but I think it's imperative for young players and old players. I look forward to it. It's the one thing I truly enjoy, getting out there and still understanding that it's an education process for a lot of players. Whatever I can use from my experiences to lend to them is what I'll try to use.
CS: You spent 2012 with D.C. United as a player-coach and last year as a full-time assistant. What did you learn working with another young coach in Ben Olsen over the last couple of years?
JW: His passion and energy is probably second to none. His belief in the city and the team and organization is very real. We had a successful year and an unsuccessful year, but through all of that, the commitment remained.
I think that you have to find ways to keep challenging players. You have to find a way to keep the players motivated and buying-in to a theme and one common goal.
Whether you're having success or not, it's important to maintain that and maintain your players in your locker room. More than anything, taking away from the last couple of years, I think that's a big piece for me: managing the group and understanding that each person, every character, they respond in different ways.
I have a lot of respect for Benny and those guys at D.C. and I wish them well going forward.
CS: You're loved here in Columbus for your goal against Mexico here in 2001, but you were also a Crew-killer in your days with Chicago, Kansas City and D.C. Gregg mentioned coming here, he loved the sense of community that the Crew portrays. What are you looking forward to most as a member of the Black & Gold?
JW: Obviously, I have to get situated as quickly as possible. I have a lot of great memories here. It's a great fan base, a great community. The first of its kind in our country with the stadium. The League has undergone a lot of changes in the last 10 years and being part of that and coming together with a new owner, an invigorated owner that's fresh with a big vision, I think is important to come in with a vision of what you want this team to look like down the road and the immediate future but also long term.
This League is geared around the fans and youth. You've got to combine those things going forward and put together a very good product so we continue to have the fan base and the support that's needed. I'm excited for the opportunity and I'm looking forward to getting started.