Corey Ashe is the first free agent signing in Columbus Crew SC history. After 8.5 years with the Houston Dynamo and half a season with Orlando City, the 29-year-old fullback decided to pursue a new adventure in the Capital City.
What enticed Ashe to join the Black & Gold?
Crew SC’s coaching staff and its style of play.
“I had a pretty good talk with Gregg [Berhalter]. He shared with me his vision, where he sees me playing a role on the team. It’s pretty enticing,” Ashe told ColumbusCrewSC.com in his first interview since joining the club.
“The team obviously has a lot of success, a lot of good players, and a big component was the coaching staff,” Ashe added. “I am familiar with all of them. I have played against both Josh [Wolff] and Gregg, and I have played with Pat [Onstad]. That was a big deciding factor, the coaching staff.”
Ashe said he’s familiar with Crew SC’s system and its signature, possession-based attacking style appeals to the leftback.
“I know [Crew SC] likes the high press and play out of every situation. The guys are comfortable on the ball; no one ever panics,” he said. “That’s a system that’s very enticing and one that I want to be part of.”
Ashe particularly likes how Sporting Director & Head Coach Gregg Berhalter interprets the roles of his fullbacks as a key component of the attack.
“Anyone that knows me knows that I like to get up and down the flanks all day long, utilizing my speed and crossing ability. I think playing for Columbus allows me to do that.”
Berhalter said that Ashe will be an ideal fit for his system and that the nine-year MLS veteran will provide leadership and experience to Crew SC’s backline.
“He is a dynamic fullback who has played a big role on successful teams throughout his tenure in this League,” Berhalter said.
Ashe began his career in Houston as a midfielder in 2007 and transitioned to leftback in 2011, his first of two years as an MLS All-Star. In his 8.5 years with the Dynamo, Ashe made it to three MLS Cup finals, winning one in his rookie year. He has made 220 regular-season appearances (163 starts) and recorded one goal and 21 assists.
Given his experience, Ashe views himself as a leader both on and off the pitch.
“I can bring a sense of leadership both by my style of play and vocally,” he said.
Ashe knows what it takes to win an MLS Cup and how to deal with losing one. His ambitions with Crew SC are clear.
“It’s what every player in the League thinks about, it’s winning the whole thing,” he said. “They were close and I’ve been there twice. That bitter taste of defeat, it’s tough, but I envision the club making it to the finals and winning the whole thing.”
Ashe understands that goal is an ambitious one, but believes that his new club embodies the basic characteristics to accomplish it.
“The thing about this League is, it gets harder. The things that you did the previous year are not necessarily good enough. You have to take it a step further,” he said. “It’s just about working hard, which is what Columbus has done since the days of Frankie Hejduk and Brian McBride. It’s working hard, working together, having the cohesion, and going from there.”