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Columbus Crew SC are Vague on Why it Was the Right Time for a Gregg Berhalter Contract Extension

Something likely forced Anthony Precourt's hand into extending Gregg Berhalter's contract beyond 2017.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

For Columbus Crew SC fans, Wednesday was a good day. The man who has turned the club from MLS afterthought to annual playoff team and MLS Cup contender, who reshaped the way the team plays and made them arguably the most attractive team to watch in the league, Gregg Berhalter, has committed long term to the club.

For me, it begged the question: Why now?

The club already had picked up the option on Berhalter's contract, meaning he would remain the sporting director and head coach of the Black & Gold through the 2017 season.

This contract extension, and likely a raise for Berhalter, has to mean that Crew SC's hands were forced.

"Gregg is valuable to our organization and we really enjoy working with him and he's an asset to Crew SC. As his stock rises in the league, we wanted to make sure that we had a working relationship for many years to come."

This was the answer owner Anthony Precourt gave when asked "why now" on Wednesday's conference call.

It's all true. Berhalter is a young coach who has done more in two years with the club than any coach in its 20-year history. He's also done something only three other coaches in league history have accomplished by making an MLS Cup Final appearance within in his first two years in charge.

Despite all that, the timing still seems strange considering he is under contract for two more seasons. One obvious explanation is that other clubs are interested in Berhalter.

Precourt was asked if any teams have asked for permission to speak with Berhalter, but said, "I'm not going to comment on that question."

When the head coach was asked about his aspirations in the coaching profession, he also skirted around the answer, electing to keep attention on his new deal and Crew SC.

"In this job I've learned that you need to put all your effort into today and that's where my focus is," he said. "I think that by extending the deal here, it proves that this is where I'm focused. We put a lot of energy into trying to get better and trying to improve. That's certainly the focus as we move into 2016."

With this announcement, it is only natural to assume that other clubs came calling. Berhalter is a young coach with experience working with some of MLS' best. He's already had a stint in Europe as the manager of Hammarby IF in Sweden before taking his role with the Black & Gold.

As to what clubs were potentially interested in Berhalter's services, we may never know. Could it have been another MLS team looking to emulate Crew SC's quick success by prying away the man responsible for it? Was there temptation to return to Europe and possibly rise through the managerial ranks at the highest level?

The only thing known, and the good news for fans of the Black & Gold, is Berhalter is focused on the future of Crew SC and likely won't be leaving Columbus any time soon.