Crew part ways with Warzycha, name Bliss interim head coach
COLUMBUS -- In is short time as owner of the Columbus Crew, Anthony Precourt made the first major change of his tenure Monday, when the team announced that it would be parting ways with Head Coach Robert Warzycha after nearly five seasons.
"Needless to say, this has been a very difficult and emotional situation," Crew President and General Manager Mark McCullers said in a press conference Monday.
"We have an obligation to our fans, to the community and to the rest of our organization. After careful consideration and consultation with our owner, we determined that we would not be renewing Robert's contract at the end of 2013. Upon coming to that conclusion, we felt that it was best to go ahead and make a coaching change now, both for the sake of the organization and in the best interests of Robert."
Warzycha's Crew had posted a mediocre record of 8-13-5 in 2013 and the playoffs seem out of reach for the team.
McCullers said that the quality of the team's play was one of Precourt's main concerns when he purchased the team.
"Anthony made it clear when he took over the team that the product on the field was one of his imemediate priorities at the time," he said. "We were in a stretch that was not good, and so we immediately focused our attention on evaluating that and discussing our options and our situation."
McCullers said that the team had made the decision that they would not be extending or renewing Warzycha's contract in 2014 even before the team's disappointing loss to the Seattle Sounders Saturday, and that the midseason move was beneficial to both parties.
"I don't think I would hang it on a specific loss," he said. "I'm not sure that the result Saturday would have changed the decision we're announcing today. When it was determined that we were going to make a change and that we weren't going to renew or extend his option, we decided that now would be the time to go ahead and make that move."
The team's Technical Director Brian Bliss will take over Warzycha's position in an interim role.
Bliss, who has coached nationally and internationally at a youth level and was the interim head coach in Kansas City in 2006, made his intentions for the rest of the season very clear.
"Not to put any pressure on Mark or Anthony, but I am here for the job and I want the job, and they know that," he said. "I'm ready for the challenges that lie ahead and to be that next guy. This is a career choice that I've put myself into, and one that I feel I'm up to the task to do."
In the meantime, Bliss says that, while sweeping changes at this point of the season aren't possible, he may bring a different attitude to the head coaching role.
"My style might be a little bit different; I might be a bit louder, more encouraging, maybe," he said. "I like to coach from a positive standpoint. I don't want to use the word cheerleading, but I'm very supportive of what goes on out on the field, but also fair but critical. I like to coach from a positive standpoint, and kind of use my words for that."
While McCullers said that Bliss is a candidate for the job, the coaching search will begin immediately, and the team will try to name a head coach, "before the end of the season," and offered some of the criteria the club will use to find new boss.
"I think it's important that we have somebody that is a fit with our corporate culture, and a fit with our brand pillars, somebody that has buy-in to who we are and who we stand for as a club," he said. "Beyond that, we're looking for somebody who has a strong vision that fits within that culture and within that brand."