The Columbus Crew were back at work Thursday preparing for Toronto FC on Saturday. The players worked on crossing and finishing drills as the media entered, but the thoughts on most minds didn't have to do with what occurred on the field.
Despite the disappointment of not completing the Mix Diskerud signing, Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter was upbeat and optimistic about the future
Conversation with Berhalter
- The head coach said they were in a position to sign a young national team player, entering the prime of his career, who has been playing over in Europe. He said that is pretty exciting. He also said he was disappointed the deal didn't go through, as he wanted it so bad for the club, the fans, and the city, but guaranteed they would be in a position like this again because of the obvious commitment from owner Anthony Precourt.
- Berhater wouldn't answer what the main snag was from the Diskerud point of view. He stated they learned of the extreme interest, and had many great talks with the both Mix and his father - which he called a pleasure. They said it was something they thought would help the team and the league because not many players come to MLS entering their prime.
- Berhalter called their offer one that 98% of the players in the league would accept.
- Asked when this all began, Berhalter said they started tracking Diskerud before the World Cup. He said it was disappointing but they got to a point where he really thought this was going to happen.
- Berhalter said the door is not close and dialogue can continue (Diskerud can be signed on a pre-contract that would allow him to move in January). He indicated they weren't shutting the door on any player.
- Berhalter said the team is still number in the allocation order
- Berhalter addressed the reports that there was a handshake deal and Mix reneged on it, saying that was not true. He said the entire time they were open and very direct in the dialogue.
- Berhalter said he learned two things in these deals: first, Precourt's commitment to go after a player of this caliber. The second was the deals aren't done until the papers are signed.
- The head coach said he was not referring to Diskerud last week when he said a big national team caliber player had contacted them about playing in Columbus.
- Asked about the LA Galaxy press conference today, Berhalter said he didn't know what that was about. He said there have been no deals with LA.
- Berhalter called Diskerud the big fish they were going after, but they worked on some other things and now they focus on those. He pointed to players out of contract and players in the league. He still feels they can find someone to help the team.
- Berhalter said the next relevant date is the trade deadline, September 15.
- When asked about the rumored addition of 19-year old Romain Gall, Berhalter confirmed the Crew signed him through the MLS lottery system. He the U.S. Youth International has great attacking ability and feels he can be a good addition to the team. Berhalter did say anything he contributes this year would be a bonus as they get him acclimated to the style of play. He also said he won't go on loan to the Dayton Dutch Lions at this time.
- Asked about Dominic Oduro returning to Columbus Crew Stadium on Saturday, Berhalter said he's done great in Toronto. He said he can perform in a system that is comfortable to him, as he is for the Reds. Berhalter said they know his speed and know he's going to be motivated but Waylon Francis has done well against him.
- Berhalter admitted that Fulham FC made an offer for Giancarlo Gonzalez and they did not accept it. He said they want to do what's best for the club. They see a certain value for him and they like him here so his value has to be met.
- Berhalter called Gonzalez one of the best center backs in the World Cup. He said it was almost comical that he wasn't on the All-Star team. Said the same about Federico Higuain, who he called one of the best players in the league. Said they both were overlooked.
- Berhalter said he was pleasantly surprised by the Homegrown Game experienced. Said both his players, Matt Lampson and Wil Trapp performed well.
- When asked about Toronto, Berhalter said they aren't happy they beat the Crew twice this year. He said they can't take much from either of the first two games due to how long ago they were and the different lineups in both games.
- In terms of health, Berhalter said Hector Jimenez is still out, Jairo Arrieta and Bernardo Anor are questionable.