Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
With only a couple of months to go before the start of preseason training, new Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter has been hard at work making additions to his staff, and he’s quickly found two new hires.
The Crew announced on Wednesday that former Major League Soccer forward Josh Wolff has joined the club as an assistant coach, while Asher Mendelsohn will become the Crew’s director of soccer operations. Wolff most recently was an assistant coach with D.C. United, where he spent the last three years, two as a coach and one as a player. Mendelsohn joins the Crew from U.S. Soccer, where he was director of referees, coaching administration, and development academy programs.
“With these two additions to the staff, I feel that we are adding strong pieces to the technical side of our organization,” Berhalter said in a statement. “Both Asher and Josh have been involved with U.S. Soccer at the highest levels for many years and they cover a broad range of experience.”
Mendelsohn will oversee the team’s salary cap management, while Wolff becomes the first assistant coaching hire for Berhalter. Wolff played alongside Berhalter with the U.S. National Team and with 1860 Munich from 2006 to 2008.
Here are some more notes from around MLS:
FIRE TO SEND PAIR TO MADRID FOR WINTER TRAINING
The Chicago Fire are making full use of their partnership with Atletico Madrid by sending two of their players to Spain for a two-week training stint this offseason.
From late November to early December, midfielders Dilly Duka and Victor Pineda will train with the UEFA Champions League side, following in the footsteps of Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, and Corben Bone, who have traveled to Spain in previous years for training stints.
“This is a great opportunity for Dilly and Victor to train with a world-class club,” said Fire head coach Frank Yallop in a statement on the club’s website. “This will allow them to continue to develop as we gear up for the 2014 season. Our partnership with Atlético Madrid has granted our players the opportunity to train with a Champions League caliber side and we’re fortunate to offer this option to our players.”
TFC’S DIKE SCORES FIRST GOAL FOR NIGERIA
After returning from a serious knee injury, Toronto FC forward Bright Dike took full advantage of his opportunity to play with the Nigerian national team by scoring in the team’s 2-2 draw with Italy on Monday night.
The 26-year-old Notre Dame product was a late injury call-up for the match in London, and after watching from the sidelines as Nigeria qualified for the World Cup with a win over Ethiopia, Dike earned a start and thanked manager Stephen Keshi with a headed goal to tie the match at 1-1 in the 35th minute.
With Nigeria heading to the World Cup, it remains to be seen whether Dike has an outside chance at making the squad after the months of rehabilitation. A strong start to the season for TFC in 2014 could do wonders for his chances. Following his trade to TFC in September, Dike made seven appearances for the Canadian club, scoring one goal.
D.C. UNITED HOMEGROWN PRODUCT SEATON STARTS FOR JAMAICA
The silver lining in Jamaica’s 2-0 defeat on Tuesday to Trinidad and Tobago may have been the first ever start for 17-year-old forward Michael Seaton.
After playing 45 minutes off the bench last Friday, the D.C. United homegrown player made his first start for the Reggae Boyz, playing 58 minutes in the defeat. Despite not scoring in either friendly match, Seaton earned a positive review from assistant coach Vin Blaine last Friday.
“He showed composure on the ball, he showed maturity, his movement off the ball, I think, had changed the game up top,” Blaine told the Jamaica Observer. “You could see that there was some mobility up front that we were not getting in the first half, so with that in mind I’m really impressed with him now.
“Definitely he is one for the future and he wants to play for Jamaica. What I also liked about him was that he was enjoying his game, he wasn’t intimidated by the fact that he was playing against people who were much older than him, and for a moment I lost the fact that he was only 17, but he looked great.”
Seaton played just once this season for D.C. United but spent two chunks of the year on loan with the Richmond Kickers in USL Pro, scoring five goals in 10 games and admitting that he’s improved physically over the course of the season.
SOUNDERS HEAD TO CHARLESTON FOR PRESEASON
The Seattle Sounders will train in both Arizona and South Carolina in February, but they won’t be taking part in the Desert Diamond Cup.
On Tuesday, the Sounders announced that they’d be taking part in the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, which takes place between February 22 and March 1. The Sounders are set to play three matches against undetermined teams in South Carolina, as well as one match on Feb. 8 in Tucson, Arizona, against the Portland Timbers.
Last year, the Charleston Battery hosted D.C. United, the Chicago Fire, and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
What do you think of these notes? Do you like the Wolff hire for the Crew? Do you see Pineda and Duka improving themselves while training with Atletico Madrid? Do you see Dike scoring goals next season for TFC?
Share your thoughts below.