Fans of Columbus Crew SC who pay attention to the team on social media may have noticed a new hashtag this offseason.
Players and coaches have been using Our Standard in their tweets and Instagram posts for a while now, but it is more than just something to add to their messages and pictures.
"It's just a way of showing what we expect out of ourselves," central defender Michael Parkhurst said in regards to the Our Standard slogan. "A standard of professionalism off the field, professionalism on the field, being accountable, and putting the work in. All those things, just the identity of the team."
It is a new era for Crew SC with the rebrand now complete and while the organization has always displayed professionalism, they are now attaching a label to it.
So where did "Our Standard" come from?
"It's just kind of something that was started kind of at the end of the season last year. Actually the season had pretty much ended," winger Ethan Finlay explained. "[High performance director] Steve Tashjian kind of came up with it. This is what he kind of decided to incorporate and call it Our Standard."
Tashijan was hired last September and developed the offseason program that brought the players back in better shape than in previous years. Our Standard was a part of that because Crew SC wanted to keep a certain standard, even in the offseason.
"Guys are kind of starting to take ownership of it and it's extremely important," Finlay said. "I think it represents a lot more than a work ethic and maybe how we do things but who we are and what we stand for obviously."
It is also something that literally sets the standard for new players as they arrive in Columbus. In order to be a member of the Black and Gold, and live up to what Crew SC strives to be, a player must bring the same level as those already on the roster.
"It's one of the things that they have to do," Parkhurst said of the new players for Columbus. "If they don't grasp it, they won't be around long. If they don't get up to speed and don't get to the physicality and the quickness of everything, they won't be here long."
Two of Crew SC's newest players both believe they understand what it means to live up to the standard that has been set and the team is looking to set in the future.
"It's kind of standard from Europe," midfielder Mohammed Saeid said. "So I mean, I think I fit in perfectly. I don't see a problem with that."
"It's just a question of being a professional," midfielder Kristinn Steindorsson added. "I know what I'm supposed to do and not supposed to do and just follow that. You have to take care of yourself so you can play at the level that they want. So it's not problem."
All of the players head coach Gregg Berhalter has brought in thus far have exemplified the standard the team expects and it appears that will continue with the new additions.
Crew SC will continue to strive to the Our Standard level on and off the field and hopes the hard work and effort will take them to new heights this year.