Change continues to be afoot for the Columbus Crew.
A little more than a month after an ownership change, manager Robert Warzycha was fired Monday, with the club's playoff hopes dwindling. Technical director Brian Bliss will take over on an interim basis for the remainder of the season and will also be a candidate for the job on a permanent basis, according to comments made by new owner Anthony Precourt and president and general manager Mark McCullers.
"Following a thorough evaluation of the club with Anthony, we determined that Robert’s contract would not be extended beyond 2013," McCullers said in a team statement. "Rather than wait until the end of the season, we felt that the best interests of the club and Robert would be served by making this change now. We believe our team can still accomplish more this season and that a change in coaching leadership under Brian would be a motivating factor for the club.”
Following Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders -- a game in which the Crew were a man up for 83 minutes -- Columbus sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, eight points out of the fifth and final playoff spot. The club has eight games remaining, and Bliss, a U.S. U-20 assistant, the club's long-time technical director and a former interim coach in Kansas City in 2006, will take the reins.
Warzycha had been the club's head coach since 2009, winning the Supporters' Shield after taking over for Sigi Schmid. He had been the club's interim boss in 2005 before Schmid came aboard. In all, Warzycha won 70 games with the Crew, which tied him for the most in club history. Two of his assistants, Ricardo Iribarren and Vojislav Stanisic were also relieved of their duties.
“It is with mixed emotions that I accept this position,” Bliss said. “Robert is a true professional and a close friend, and I will personally miss working with him.
“Sometimes in these situations a fresh perspective and a new voice are needed. I’m confident in our players and the talent on our roster. I know these guys have a lot of fight in them, and they have the desire to continue battling and finish strong. Our fans deserve to see the best out of this team, and I plan to do what’s necessary to make that happen.”
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