COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Crew announced on Wednesday that they have hired Asher Mendelsohn as the club's first director of soccer operations and Josh Wolff as assistant coach, giving the team two new faces long familiar with the workings of U.S. Soccer.
But new Crew head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter – who played in two World Cups for the USMNT himself – insists that neither move was based on familiarity or connections with the national team. Mendelsohn is the former U.S. Soccer director of referees, while Wolff (above, in 2006) is a veteran of the USMNT.
“You could also say the last staff had a lot of U.S. Soccer,” Berhalter told MLSsoccer.com. “[Crew assistant] Mike Lapper played for the national team, [technical director] Brian Bliss played for the national team.
“There are a lot of guys at these levels that played for the national team. I was familiar with Josh as a player, and I think Asher is more than qualified for this type of role.”
Berhalter and Wolff were teammates of Crew brand ambassador Frankie Hejduk, and Wolff said that the reunion is “unique.”
“Whether that garners success or not, we'd like to believe it will; we'd like to believe we all bring something that will raise the profile of this club in a big way,” Wolff told MLSsoccer.com. “It's infectious around the league. You can see a lot of previous players or guys that have been in our league or with the national team moving on into these positions.”
Though he appreciates the group coming together, Wolff knows where his priorities need to be.
“It's exciting to be a part of, it's exciting to have those guys around; there are a lot of good memories,” he said. “But first and foremost, we all understand what it takes to get this thing in the right direction and to get success. We're up for the challenge, and it'll be exciting to get started.”
Berhalter, a defender in his playing days, said that he had offense in mind when making Wolff's appointment.
“[Wolff] has a great offensive mind,” he said. “We have a good young group of players that he can work closely with. I think it's a good complement to my skill set ... We have game analysis, individual video edits, individual training and group offensive training. And I see [him] overseeing that entire area.”
Berhalter said that the two hirings would not have any effect on Lapper's future, though he made it clear that things will be more certain in the coming days.
“I want to get the other assistant coach position filled by the end of the week or early next week, as well as a goalkeeper coach and maybe a scout,” Berhalter said. “So we're talking about rounding that out for the year with a nice tight staff.”