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Columbus Crew SC has a reason to focus on the MLS SuperDraft this season

Gregg Berhalter hasn’t exactly put his full focus on the draft before, but this year it makes sense to.

MLS: SuperDraft Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Gregg Berhalter has been in charge of Columbus Crew SC since Nov. 6, 2013. In that time, he has successfully hit on his fair share of players, which is why the Black & Gold have had more success than failure during his tenure.

Once place Berhalter hasn’t flourished with player acquisition is in the MLS SuperDraft. Over that time, Crew SC has not picked higher than 14th overall in the draft.

According to Berhalter, it’s hard to find a player who can regularly contribute with an early first-round selection.

“When you look at draft picks, it’s not uncommon that a guy after the top 10 doesn’t stick on a roster,” Berhalter told Massive Report in early 2015. “If you get a guy past the top 10 that contributes, you’re doing pretty well.”

After finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference, easily the most disappointing season of the Berhalter era, Columbus has the fifth pick in Friday’s 2017 SuperDraft, following expansion clubs Minnesota United and Atlanta United and the Chicago Fire and the Houston Dynamo.

Crew SC also has the New England Revolution’s ninth-overall pick due to the Kei Kamara trade last May.

This means the Black & Gold should get at least one player who can stick around and ideally have an impact on the team in the upcoming season.

Because of the positions of these selections, Columbus will have a different mindset this year than it has in the previous three drafts under his watch.

“I think with the SuperDraft, we’re going to look at guys that can help the club now and in the future,” Berhalter said on a recent conference call. “We think that at some of these picks, we should be able to get some talent and we’re going to get the best available talent on the board.”

As for what the Black & Gold are looking for, it will likely be a midfielder or attacking option. Crew SC have made four acquisitions this offseason, all four defenders, so it’s likely they’re okay in that position group.

In our recent SB Nation Mock Draft, our Patrick Guldan selected UCLA forward Abu Danladi with the fifth pick and Maryland defender (yes, he panicked a little) Chris Odoi-Atsem four spots later.

The club could also look into the possibility of trading picks, something Berhalter told Andrew Erickson of The Columbus Dispatch he was open to. Based on the head coach’s comments, it likely won’t be to drop back and collect more picks (this isn’t the NFL after all), but it could be to move up if there’s a player Crew SC likes or for a player in the league the staff has their eye on.

The SuperDraft kicks off at 3:00 p.m. ET and the first two rounds are available for live streaming on Rounds three and four will be held at 2:00 PM ET on Tuesday, January 17 via conference call.

For the first time in three seasons, the Black & Gold faithful have a good reason to watch the SuperDraft. Berhalter is dialed in to the college players, hoping to improve the team before the preseason begins on Jan. 23.

“We expect to continue to add players,” Berhalter said in early January. “We want to continue to build this roster in a way that we can be more competitive next year. So I would think that there’s going to be more signings. Between the SuperDraft, between the international market potentially, potentially trades as well internally, there will probably be more movement.”