It wasn't long into their tenure that the Crew coaching staff pulled off a makeover of sorts with midfielder Bernardo Anor. For the first time, Anor started being called "Bernie," a nickname bestowed upon him by assistant coach Josh Wolff. Now more than halfway through the season, coach Gregg Berhalter is hoping to pull off a second transformation - one that helps turn Anor into a player who can consistently play at the level he showed last Saturday in a 2-1 home win over Montreal.
It wasn’t long into their tenure that the Crew coaching staff pulled off a makeover of sorts with midfielder Bernardo Anor.
For the first time, Anor started being called “Bernie,” a nickname bestowed upon him by assistant coach Josh Wolff. Now more than halfway through the season, coach Gregg Berhalter is hoping to pull off a second transformation — one that helps turn Anor into a player who can consistently play at the level he showed last Saturday in a 2-1 home win over Montreal.
It was the second time Anor scored both of the Crew’s goals this season, but also only the second game in which he has scored. So when Berhalter said after the win that he wanted more consistency out of Anor, the fourth-year midfielder understood where he was coming from.
“I completely agree that I’ve got to find that consistency,” Anor said. “You don’t want to be scoring two goals every few months and being known for that. You would like to find that consistency a little bit more often and hopefully provide the team more chances for goals.”
Since being selected in the third round of the 2011 draft, Anor has made 62 appearances, including 45 starts, and has scored 10 goals. It was enough for Berhalter to decide not only to keep Anor when he assessed the roster after being named coach and sporting director last fall but to envision an important role for him.
“He’s a guy that has great endurance, he has good quickness, he’s strong, he’s technically good, he’s smart in his movements, he can strike a ball, he’s good (one on one), he can cross a ball,” Berhalter said. “You can go on and on. He’s good in the air, good on crosses, good in offensive transition. There’s a whole list of things you can say about Bernardo.”
Anor’s overall production does not always come down to simply scoring goals, however. In 2012, he made one appearance at left back and suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that sidelined him until the following June. This year, Anor made five starts at left back while Waylon Francis was with Costa Rica’s World Cup team.
“He gets up and down that left-hand side,” said midfielder Ethan Finlay, who has played opposite Anor at times this season. “He defends well. He played left back and did a fine job. You get a consistent guy who plays well with guys like (Federico Higuain) and can combine, and he’s comfortable coming in the middle.”
Whether he scores more frequently like he did last weekend or not, Anor’s performance against Montreal should have an impact how opponents have to defend the Crew.
Of the Crew’s 23 goals scored this season, only five have come from outside the penalty area. Two of those were Anor’s blasts against Montreal.
“He’s our main guy (for shooting from distance),” Berhalter said. “Federico can do it as well, but any guy I would encourage in that position to do (that). We encourage taking chances, taking risks, being proactive. We’re trying to put the opponent on their back foot, and that’s the way we do it.”