Before officially re-signing with the Columbus Crew last Wednesday, defender Josh Williams had been staring down an uncertain offseason. As the season ended, the 25-year-old Williams was out of contract, had lost his starting spot after battling a concussion and the Crew had yet to name a Head Coach.
“It's obviously a little uncomfortable when you know you don't have a contract at the end of the year,” Williams told MLSsoccer.com by phone Wednesday. “With the team looking for a coaching change, you don't know who's coming in and who's leaving, so that's always uncomfortable.”
But when the Crew announced the hiring of Gregg Berhalter as the team's Head Coach and Sporting Director, things started to clear up for Williams.
“When I found out [Berhalter] was going to be the coach, that was a big positive for me,” Williams said. “I met with him and I liked his vision, I liked what he expected from me... He seemed like a good guy, seemed like a motivator and that's what I was looking for.”
Berhalter said Tuesday that he was looking forward to working with Williams and that the club was “eager” to keep him on the roster. For Williams, the deciding factor was the vision that Berhalter outlined for the club's future.
“He said he liked my potential, and that it's just a matter of me buying into his vision,” Williams said. “Obviously I hold myself to high expectations. So it was more me telling him I want him to push me as hard as he can, and he said, 'that's the plan.'”
While he was out of contract, Williams said that he and his agent had worked with other teams, and even had some other tentative offers. But things “didn't get too serious,” he said, and Williams always wanted to stay with the Crew.
“Obviously I had to have some options just in case things didn't work out,” he said. “But deep down, I wanted the situation to work here. I call Columbus my home now, I want to be here for a while. I'm very comfortable here. But with some of the uncertainty here, I had to have some backup options.”