At Crew training headquarters in Obetz today, Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter addressed his players before they departed for the offseason. It was both a day of reflection and a day of anticipation. That proved true for midfielder Bernardo Anor, who enjoyed his best statistical season in Black & Gold in 2014.
"The phrase that's stuck to my mind is that we should be proud of the work that we've accomplished, but we're not satisfied," said the Venezuelan. "We can still give more qualities and we can make things happen. We know it's in us and we just have to work harder for next season. Hopefully we can get further."
The Crew got as far as it ever has during Anor's four-season tenure with the club, qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2011. Unlike Anor's rookie campaign in 2011, his side advanced straight through to the Eastern Conference Semifinals by finishing as the East's third seed. In 2011, the Black & Gold fell in the Knockout Round.
"For the team, it's pretty awesome," said Anor on the Playoff run. "For me as an individual, being a part of the Columbus Crew for four years, obviously I wanted to experience that. It was fun. We know it's a different intensity of the game. We're going to have to be more prepared for the years to come. It's something that we definitely didn't see coming, losing at home 4-2, and that's definitely hard to come back around that result. We went to New England with high hopes and we did our best. We had the chances, we couldn't [finish] them, but we know that we're creating enough chances.
"We just have to work on finishing them and we'll be better."
It's all part of an exciting transformation that's extending beyond the pitch to the organization as a whole, but the midfielder admitted the transformation won't be truly complete until the Black & Gold are back on the championship stage.
"The whole mentality is pretty positive, having this change on the team, the new era, new coaching staff, new players coming in," said Anor. "I think it's pretty interesting. It's something that we'll look back in the past and bring a lot of nice memories. It would be way better if we accomplish as a team, and as individuals, a championship. That's obviously what we want and I know next year we are going to be better. We are aiming for that trophy."
The excitement also spilled over to the supporters this season, something that Anor said he noticed and appreciated.
"All the people, the supporters are pretty excited about this new era and the new philosophy of the team. I think they should be pretty proud of the work that we've accomplished. Hopefully we'll keep bringing the satisfaction to all the people around for this club."