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Organizational approach helping to ease Columbus Crew's coaching transition

With a new coaching staff, there is a new approach in the Columbus Crew's preseason training.

USA TODAY Sports

A new staff always brings change and that's what the Columbus Crew were looking for when they replaced former coach Robert Warzycha with new head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter.

Crew players have only been working with Berhalter for a little over two weeks of preseason, but they are already beginning to see the differences from the old regime.

"The level of intensity," defender Josh Williams compared these preseasons to those of the past. "Trainings have been longer, but they force you to stay focused. I think that's what we need."

Columbus is a young team that has missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons. Berhalter has been brought in to fix things and a emphasis on intensity could go a long way this year.

The players understand that this is not an organization that can buy the best talent in the league; they have to win games based on focus and hard work.

"We don't have millions and millions to spend on guys," Williams said. "We need to outwork everybody and I feel like that's what we've been doing so far."

That's not the only thing Williams has noticed from these early training sessions, either in Bradenton, Florida or in Columbus.

"Also the level of organization," he said. "It seems like the moment we walk in, everything's setup, to the moment we leave, everything's organized. Everybody from Gregg on down to the training staff, to the writers, everything, it's all organized and that's good to see."

Having this organization and preparation gives a more professional feel to the team, but also maximizes the practice time, with the regular season kicking off in just three and a half weeks.

As new assistant coach Josh Wolff points out, this is all done intentionally.

"Gregg brings a real detail to the job and I think we're trying to relay that to the players the best we can," Wolff said of his new boss.

Organization off the field can lead to successful synchronization on the pitch. With a new staff, players need to understand their roles and Berhalter's attention to detail will help them grasp his concepts.

"I think each player is getting a little more idea of what they specifically need to do as an individual, but also their role within the team," Wolff said. "That's kind of what the first couple weeks have looked like and it'll get a little more specific as we move through."

Preseason will continue to amplify over the next few weeks, but the team's new organizational approach will not change. This is something the players like.

"It's all been good so far," Williams said. "Definitely."