The first moves of the Gregg Berhalter are official. The Crew announced that Asher Mendelsohn will join the organization as the Director of Soccer Operations and Josh Wolff joins Berhalter's technical staff as an assistant coach.
Mendelsohn is a U.S. Soccer insider who has spent nine years in various roles with the federation. He's currently the Director of Referees, Coaching Administration and Development Academy Programs. He will be Berhalter's big picture man with an eye on the future. His duties will include navigating the particulars of MLS competition rules, managing the team's player contracts with an eye to the salary budget, and working with the staff of the Crew Soccer Academy.
Mendelsohn's strength lies in administration. He has worked extensively with U.S. Soccer's youth academy and has lead the expansion of the Professional Referee Organization. PRO has formalized referee management in the U.S. and handles the assignments for all of the major soccer leagues in America, including MLS, USL-Pro, NASL, and NWPL.
While Mendelsohn has been around soccer much of his career, he doesn't have much MLS experience. He's worked with the league, but has spent his entire career in soccer with the U.S. Soccer federation. He hasn't dealt with league headquarters and his experience with player contract negotiations is limited. He takes some responsibility from Berhalter, but still leaves the Crew short of experience in club operations.
Berhalter's other hiring, Josh Wolff, has a much more direct experience. Wolff's 15 year playing career started with the Chicago Fire with stops with Kansas City, 1860 Munich, and D.C. United. He scored 80 goals in MLS and another 9 for the U.S. National Team, including a memorable strike in the 2001 La Guerra Fria game against Mexico. Wolff played with Berhalter during the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. They were also teammates at 1860 Munich.
Prior to joining the Crew, Wolff was an assistant for D.C. United on Ben Olsen's staff, including as a player/coach in 2012 and as a full time assistant during 2013 season. Berhalter told reporters that Wolff be taking over the offensive coaching duties. The Crew's coaching staff has long been filled with defensive minded former players and Wolff's addition is a break from the past.
Berhalter still has to fill out his staff, likely looking for at least two more coaches including a goalkeeper coach. The additions Mendelsohn and Wolff do show a glimpse into Berhalter's management style. He's talked about rolling responsibilities over to those around him, much like a chief executive gives responsibilities over to his lieutenants. That makes hiring the right people all the more important.