Upon his arrival from Spain, Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss took the time to chat with TheCrew.com's Cody Sharrett about his trip with the United States U-20 National Team, the MLS Reserve League and the upcoming offseason:
Cody Sharrett: Welcome back to Columbus. You just got back from the Marabella Cup in Spain with the US U-20s where you team went 2-1-0 as assistant coach. How is the future of U.S. Soccer looking right now?
Brian Bliss: It was a good group. It was one of the stronger groups. It was the sixth time we've been together as a group with guys floating in and out, having different rosters at different times. But that was the strongest group that we've put together in the U-20 squad. I think the results show that. The style of play is slowly coming together, and I think the results came with that. It's looking better than it was say in our March camp up in Portland.
CS: With Crew Soccer Academy Product Wil Trapp (above) in season at Akron, he obviously couldn't make the trip. Where does he fit in the picture ahead of next year's U-20 World Cup in Turkey?
BB: I think he's in the mix for sure. I think [U-20 Head Coach] Tab [Ramos] has had that conversation with Wil and Alfred Koroma, who is also with Akron. He's had that conversation with them and I think he's let both of those guys know they're in his plans for U-20s. We're sorry he couldn't make this trip, but he'll be in the next one in December.
CS: The Crew won its second consecutive Reserve League title over the weekend. What does that say about the club's depth and youth?
BB: It's the second year in a row, so obviously we're doing something right in terms of the quality of the players we've got and what they're producing. You would think that we could burden a little bit more responsibility with some of those younger guys going into next year. I'm not saying they're going to be the top performers, but they can certainly shoulder some more minutes and shoulder more responsibility.
CS: With the Crew no longer in playoff contention, players are playing for pride and jobs this week against Toronto FC. How will you be evaluating the talent this week ahead of making offseason?
BB: One game at the end of the season is not going to make or break the decision on our end. We pretty much have our opinions on players. If you're six or eight games away from the end of the season and you're not in the playoffs, yeah guys are still playing for jobs. But with one game remaining, it's probably not so much that, but more about pride. Nothing against Toronto, but who wants to go into the offseason knowing you lost at home to a rival that's at the bottom of the table. The pride has got to kick in and give you enough juice to win that game.