It has been a true team-effort during the Crew's time in Orlando, including members of the club's Technical Staff providing support in addition to their typical duties.
We caught up with Technical Director & VP of Soccer Operations Pat Onstad, who answered what he's been up to while in Orlando, as well as his assessment of the team and what's helped prepare the players for a successful group stage thus far:
On his role currently with the team in Orlando
I think that when I’m here [in Orlando], the roles change a little bit in the sense that probably here more is whatever I can help with and help guide the group and look at bigger issues that are going off the field, whether it’s training times, help getting pool times, whether it’s making sure our Manager of Soccer Ops and Director of High Performance are all on the same page. That’s kind of been my role here a little bit on the ground. Then I think also just because of the climate right now with transfers and signings that, I wouldn’t say it’s slowed down, but there are only certain markets that are open. So I’ve been doing a lot of phone calls with that and following up on some leads, but for the most part, I’ve been focused here on the tournament.
On assessing the current roster
The roster last year, I think, was in a little bit of a transition. We made a lot of changes. We’ve been very fortunate that I think we’ve made some really good ones. Had some good additions and I think the guys that have come in have embraced the way Caleb wants to play soccer – an aggressive style of play; a team that keeps possession in the opponent’s half and kind of keeps them pinned in – and I think we’ve been very fortunate that we’ve signed some guys that believe in that philosophy and embody it full-time. It’s made a big difference in terms of where Caleb now has a real belief in this group. He really likes this group and where it’s headed. I’ll tell you from a Technical Director’s perspective, we are always trying to look to make the roster stronger and better and try to see where we can improve. But I’m very happy certainly with the first two games in the way the guys have performed. I think more importantly is that the whole group has rallied behind one another and the way that we are playing. When you get buy-in like that, it certainly makes everybody’s job a lot easier.
On what has helped prepare the team overall
One of the points that I think kind of goes unnoticed is it wasn’t really once we got here and got our boots on the ground. Yes, we went through some issues obviously dealing with a player who was positive and dealing with that as a group, but I think more importantly is that we prepared well leading into this tournament. We pushed and then we also stepped back during the right moments, I think, once [COVID-19] hit in March. I think the group, when they came in, were refreshed and ready to get together and kind of bond again and see what Caleb could do on the field and how he was going to push them. I think we came in here with our feet on the ground and ready to go, and I think when you have that mindset – and I give credit to both Clive, to Caleb, for their hard work in how they molded the guys on and off the field during the time away from the field – I think that’s played a big part in why we’ve been successful so far.