Columbus Crew SC today announced that it has extended the contract of Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. By picking-up an option on the fourth year of his deal, Berhalter, 41, is now under contract with the club through the 2017 Major League Soccer season. Per club and MLS policy, additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The announcement comes ahead of the club’s Opening Match at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday against Toronto FC (7:30 p.m. ET / Time Warner Cable SportsChannel). Berhalter brings the Black & Gold back to Central Ohio after a successful first season in Columbus, where the club experienced an 11-point increase from the season prior and qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2011. Berhalter was hired on November 6, 2013 and became the club’s first Sporting Director, combining this role with his head coaching duties for the first time in Crew SC history.
“Gregg is the ideal Sporting Director and Head Coach for Crew SC as we build a winning culture and solid foundation both on and off the pitch,” said Crew SC Investor-Operator and Chairman Anthony Precourt. “There are no quick fixes in this business and Gregg has proven to be thoughtful and thorough in his intelligent approach to the game. With Gregg in charge, we feel that we are in position to compete and win on a year-in, year-out basis.”
Berhalter’s first campaign with the Black & Gold in 2014 was a year that saw Columbus improve from a 12-17-5 record (41 points) in 2013 to a 14-10-10 mark (52 points) in 2014. The club finished the season on a 10-3-2 streak, earning the third seed in the Eastern Conference and a bye from the Knockout Round of the postseason.
“I want to thank Mr. Precourt for his support over my first two seasons with the club and I look forward to continue executing the vision for Crew SC," said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “I am also excited to continue working with this group of players. It has been a pleasure to watch their development from an individual and team perspective as they represent the club and this city. The future is bright for Columbus and I am proud to be a part of it.”
Over his first year, Berhalter also oversaw the execution of several key roster moves, including trading for Captain Michael Parkhurst from New England ahead of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, who later became the club’s first MLS All-Star since 2010; signing, developing and later attaining the single-largest transfer fee for a defender in MLS history in Giancarlo Gonzalez; trading for the rights to Steve Clark, a finalist for Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, the acquisition of striker Kei Kamara via the MLS Allocation Order and the offseason signings of important contributors such as Hernan Grana, Mohammed Saeid, Kristinn Steindorsson and Cedrick Mabwati. The club also signed Homegrown Player Ben Swanson, and after a number of break-out performances by Crew SC players in the 2014 season, Berhalter extended the Columbus tenures of Federico Higuain, Ethan Finlay, Hector Jimenez, Justin Meram and Waylon Francis. Under Berhalter, Meram (Iraq), Steindorsson (Iceland) and Wil Trapp (United States) all received their first international call-ups to their respective country’s national teams within the last year while players such as Finlay, Clark and Tony Tchani are widely lauded for their development over the past season and potential to contribute at the international level.
The Crew SC boss was named a finalist for the MLS Coach of the Year award as a credit to his 2014 efforts. Simultaneously, Berhalter became the first Head Coach in team history to lead the club to the postseason in his first year without any prior experience with the team.
Fans can enter to win an all-access pass to MAPFRE Stadium in the form of a pair of tickets to every public event held at the venue during the 2015 calendar year, such as Crew SC home matches, Rock on the Range 2015 and more. Fans can enter at ColumbusCrewSC.com/MAPFRE, with the sweepstakes ending on March 31.