Before heading to his home country of Ghana to spend his offseason, Crew forward Dominic Oduro sat down with TheCrew.com's Cody Sharrett for an exclusive Q&A after re-signing with the Black & Gold.
Cody Sharrett: The negotiation process really started as soon as the season ended and I'm sure there were other offers to consider, but what made Columbus and the Crew the right place to continue your career?
Dominic Oduro: First of all, the fans. They've been really supportive. I had a good run here last year. I want to continue what we did as a team last year and I think we have a good coach that will help us going forward.
We have a great team. It's unfortunate that we couldn't get to where we wanted to last year, but I feel like if the same guys are coming back, I want to be part of it. I think we'll have a strong case this year. I want to be a part of that, a part of that history.
CS: You've played various places throughout your MLS career, starting in Dallas, then New York, Houston and Chicago before landing with the Crew last year. What's been different about Columbus?
DO: I think we have a great locker room. That's one thing, as a player, you always feel good when the locker room is great. The guys are fantastic. We joke around a lot, but when it comes to soccer, everyone is serious. Everyone is competitive. We're a team that can compete. We had our ups and downs last season, but I think in the end we played better soccer. We finished really strong. Not the way we wanted, but I thought the soccer was great. And again, the fans were fantastic.
I also had a great season. If things are going your way, you want to continue that. These are a few of things that made it easy to come back with the Crew for the long run.
CS: Some may say "Oduro was in a contract year last year. Of course he's going to score a career-high in goals." How do you keep that momentum going now that you don't have the pressure of playing for a contract?
DO:[laughs] It means I'll be more focused. You're always competing for your job, every day. Obviously, I've set a high standard and I have to live up to it. It's going to be hard work. I just have to do what I have to do and help the team win games. Whatever I achieve will come through that process, but the team is always first.
It's all about the team. Individual achievement will come if I help the team.
CS: What kind of goals do you have, personally and with the team, with the Crew?
DO: As a team, we have to make the playoffs. That was our goal last year and we couldn't achieve it. The fans want it. As a team that has won MLS Cup before, I think it is our duty to make the playoffs every season. That is really key. Every team wants to make the playoffs. We have the guys. Hopefully we bring in a couple of guys to make the team even stronger. I'm here to help the team win games, make the playoffs and hopefully make a run at the championship. It starts with preparation: how we do in preseason, how we deal with games in season and everything else will follow. Winning should be a mentality that is there all the time.
CS: When Josh Williams re-signed, he said his first few meetings with Gregg Berhalter reassured him of wanting to return to Columbus. What are your impressions of Gregg and his vision for the Crew?
DO: It's always good to have a player's coach. He was a player, he knows the system. He played in MLS. He knows how it is. He played soccer his whole life. He has the idea of what it takes to get into games, to get prepared. I sat down with him not too long ago talking about gameplans and my role and his role with the team going forward. It was really positive. It's reassuring as a player knowing a coach has an idea of where he wants to team to go and your role as part of the team.
Stuff like that gives you confidence. It really motivates you. You know things are going in the right direction. I'll re-emphasize, he was a player before, so he knows that winning should be a must all of the time. Also, the experience he's had coaching in Europe, you see that as a positive. I think he'll push us forward, but us players have to work with him.
CS: You're versatile, able to play on the wing or up top. Where do you see yourself playing? Or does it really matter as long as you're on the field?
DO: [laughs] I think if you ask any player he'll say he wants to play all the time, no matter where. I want to play up top, but I've had success on the wing. It's something Gregg and I have talked about. I'm ready, wherever he wants me to play. I'll be ready. If he wants me to play rightback, for example. If he wants me to learn the position to help the team win. I'll be good to go. I'm here. I'll be ready where ever the coach needs me to go. He'll show me the right direction and I'll work as hard as possible to get there.