The Columbus Crew’s coaching staff in 2022 will not look the same as 2021. While head coach Caleb Porter remains, he will have two new assistant coaches helping him lead the Black & Gold when the new season kicks off.
On Wednesday, the Crew announced the hiring of Eric Quill as an assistant coach, as well as the promotion of Blair Gavin to the same position. Quill comes in to replace the departed Ezra Hendrickson, who was named the head coach of the Chicago Fire in late November.
Gavin fills the void left by Ben Cross, who departs Columbus to become an assistant on newly-named head coach Nico Estévez’s FC Dallas staff. These two join current Crew assistant coaches Pablo Moreira and Tim Hanley.
“I would like to thank Ezra and Ben for their positive service to our coaching staff and to the players during their time in Columbus,” Porter said in a statement announcing the coaching additions. “I have enjoyed working with them both and appreciate all that they have done for myself and for the club. I wish them all the best in their new opportunities.”
Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko added: “We would like to take this time to thank Ben for his contributions to the club. Since 2016, Ben worked tirelessly with both the Academy and later the first team, winning MLS Cup in 2020 and Campeones Cup in 2021. We wish him and his family all the best in Dallas.”
Quill most recently served as the head coach for USL League One team North Texas SC where he led the club since January of 2019. During his time with North Texas, Quill’s team finished first in the USL League One in 2019 before winning in the championship game. Following the 2019 season, Quill was named USL League One Coach of the Year.
A second season in charge did not go as well for Quill as North Texas, who finished third in the USL League One standings in 2020. This past season, North Texas finished sixth in the standings and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Prior to his time in the USL League One, Quill was the technical director of Texas Soccer Club Houston where he oversaw player and coaching development. While serving as the Academy director and Under-18 head coach, Quill helped guide his team to the U.S. Development Academy U-18 national championship and was named the USSDA Coach of the Year.
During his time with both clubs, Quill worked with promising young players such as Ricardo Pepi, Chris Richards and Tanner Tessman. Quill also served as an assistant coach for the United States at the U-15 and U-19 national teams.
Quill played nine seasons in MLS before becoming a coach. A midfielder, Quill played for the Tampa Bay Mutiny, the Kansas City Wizards, the New York/New Jersey Metrostars and the Dallas Burn during his playing career, scoring 12 goals and contributing 31 assists in 143 games.
“Eric brings a wealth of experience not only as a former MLS player, but more importantly now as a coach who has been grinding to learn the craft and earn this opportunity,” Porter said of Quill. “Throughout the interview process, it was clear that Eric has a unique hunger and passion which has been reflected in every step he’s taken. As an Academy coach then as head coach for North Texas SC, you see a common thread in his ability to develop players and to win. It was easy to see why he has done so well and why he will be such a great fit for our coaching staff. Eric will bring a strong understanding of the game tactically, and I know he will have great relationships with our players. I’m energized to work alongside Eric and want to welcome him and his family to Columbus.”
Gavin was named the Crew's first team video coach analyst in March ahead of the 2021 season. Prior to joining the Black & Gold, Gavin worked in the USL Championship as an assistant coach for Phoenix Rising FC from 2018-2020.
Like Quill, Gavin also has playing experience in MLS, playing from 2010-17 for Chivas USA, the Seattle Sounders and the New England Revolution. Gavin was the No. 10 overall selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft after playing collegiately at Akron under Porter.
Gavin previously stepped in for Henderickson while he was on a medical leave of absence, working as an assistant coach for the Crew for three months last season.
“I’m equally excited that Blair has been promoted to the assistant coach position,” Porter said. “Like Eric, Blair is a former MLS player who also holds an A coaching license and has earned this opportunity through his work on our staff this past season. Blair has a high-level knowledge of the game that has proven to be a tremendous asset to our preparation, training, and scouting processes.
“Blair stepped in for Ezra during the regular season, and that gave us a strong feeling he would transition to full-time assistant coach seamlessly. I am excited for him to take this next step in his young coaching career.”