Robert Warzycha

Cheat sheet of MLS coaching comings and goings

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This has certainly been a period of managerial transition like none other in Major League Soccer. Want an example of how much?

Guys that we didn’t even know have been fired (or dismissed, or having “parted ways” or been placed on freakin’ “gardening leave” or whatever) are now being replaced.

It happened today when Frank Klopas, recently dismissed a Chicago, was named to replace Marco Schallibaum. Which wouldn’t be such a big deal – except that Montreal had somehow managed to (mostly) slip it past everyone that Schallibaum would not be brought back.

In all, 9 of 19 MLS coaching seats changed hands this year (Chivas USA more than once, in fact.)

At any rate, here is the cheat sheet of MLS managerial comings and goings in 2013.

 Out during the regular season:

  • Chivas USA’s José Luis Sánchez (May)
  • San Jose Frank Yallop (June)
  • Columbus Crew’s Robert Warzycha (September)

Out since the end of the season (or very close to it)

  • FC Dallas’ Schellas Hyndman
  • Vancouver’s Martin Rennie
  • Chivas USA’s José Luis Real
  • Chicago’s Frank Klopas
  • Real Salt Lake’s Jason Kreis
  • Montreal’s Marco Schallibaum

Replacements now in charge

  • Mark Watson in San Jose (promoted from interim in late October)
  • Gregg Berhalter at Columbus
  • Jason Kreis at New York City FC (begins play in MLS in 2015)
  • Frank Yallop (pictured above) at Chicago
  • Carl Robinson at Vancouver
  • Frank Klopas at Montreal

Jobs that remain vacant

  • Chivas USA
  • FC Dallas
  • Real Salt Lake

Highlights: Bliss gets first win as Houston’s slide continues

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8rSM7UyDSQ]

Brian Bliss took over for Robert Warzycha two days ago. Now he has his first win as coach of the Columbus Crew, though had Will Bruin been on his game, this match would have gone much differently. The Houston Dynamo striker had three great chances in this game’s first 11 minutes, and as the Columbus Crew color analyst notes, it’s difficult to look beyond casual finishing on two of those misses.

With Bruin struggling, tonight’s match at Crew Stadium went into halftime 0-0. From there, it was all the home side, creating Ryan Finley’s first goal two minutes into the second before Justin Meram put the game away. Columbus would go on to defeat the Dynamo, 2-0.

There’s really no way around talking about Bruin. The misses where just that important. Where Houston was controlling the outset of this match — where Bruin’s teammates and, to a certain extent, himself were firing on all cylinders — it’s his job to finish those chances. He needs to make the plan, work, and execution pay off. That he didn’t allowed the Crew to hang around and, eventually, prolong Houston’s agony.

That agony’s been defined by their last five matches. At a time when Houston should be surging — their team finally settling in after a season disrupted by injuries and national team call-ups — they’ve gone 1-3-1, dropping out of the East’s top five. National team call-ups are still bothering them (Boniek Garcia was absent tonight), and injuries have now claimed Ricardo Clark. But at some point, beyond all circumstances and excuses, this team needs to turn it around.

That point wasn’t tonight, with Columbus’s second half dominance seeing Houston out of Crew Stadium with a two-goal loss.

 

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings – Round 27 edition

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The league’s uneven scheduling means things are even tighter than they look (with several teams trailing in the standings, but extra games in hand.) So here is your weekly re-ordering of current quality following 27 rounds of league play:

19. D.C. United – They could not match New York even with Thierry Henry on the bench.

18. Toronto FC – Ryan Nelsen’s team had a goal disallowed late in a draw with New England as a phantom foul nullified a potential game-winner. That’s how it is this year for the Reds.

17. Chivas USA – Erick “El Cubo” Torres, with yet another two-goal performance has mercifully provided Chivas USA supporters something to smile about in 2013. And a 2-2 draw in Vancouver is not a bad result for the Goats.

16. Columbus – Five years of “success” that toggled between middling and non-existent for manager Robert Warzycha cost the Crew manager his job Monday.

15. Chicago Fire – When Mike Magee doesn’t score, the team struggles desperately to win – and he isn’t scoring much lately. Latest playoff-chase setback: Sunday’s 1-1 draw at home with Houston.

14. FC Dallas – Following an idle weekend a huge match is up this round as slumping Vancouver visits; if Dallas wants to see playoff soccer, winning in Texas against fellow playoff aspirants from the West is an absolute must.

13. San Jose Earthquakes – The Earthquakes ran up against a motivated Galaxy team at top gear and paid a dear price in a stinging 3-0 loss on the road.

12. New England Revolution – New England management and the league apparently blocked Stoke City’s effort to gain the services of  Juan Agudelo (pictured above) a few months early; truly, Jay Heaps and Co. need all the help they can get as they try desperately to fight their  way into the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

11. Houston Dynamo – The Dynamo hung around long enough in Chicago to grab a late equalizer and sneak out of Toyota Park with a valuable 1-1 draw. (Not just valuable for the point, but also for the two points that Chicago did not claim.)

(MORE: MLS Round 27 week in review)

10. Philadelphia Union – If the Union cannot get over the playoff hump this year, a hum-drum 6-3-5 home record will be the reason. While John Hackworth’s team can reliably grind out results on the road, too many draws in Chester are damaging the bottom line. Latest example, Saturday’s scoreless draw at PPL Park against Montreal.

9. Vancouver Whitecaps – Martin Rennie’s team needs to wake up – and in a hurry! The Whitecaps were 9-5-5 and purring along just six weeks ago. They are 1-4-2 since then and have tumbled all the way out of a playoff spot. The latest dropped points: a 2-2 draw Sunday at home against last-place Chivas USA.

8. New York Red Bulls – Do not say that manager Mike Petke lacks guts. Bench Thierry Henry? Who would do such a thing … especially a young manager in his first pro coaching assignment?  But it paid off all the way around in a 2-1 win over D.C. United.

7. Portland Timbers – What Caleb Porter said after a young version of his slightly injury-dented team fell hard at Real Salt Lake: “They punished us, and we weren’t good enough to win the game.” He said the early red card was a factor, but not the reason his team fell, 4-2. The Timbers are a meager 1-3-3 since mid-July.

6. Montreal Impact – Philadelphia worked hard to neutralize Marco Di Vaio and the Impact counter attack, so a scoreless draw at PPL Park was a worthy result for the Eastern Conference co-leaders. Justin Mapp had yet another nice match, especially in the first half. (Di Vaio continues to lead in the Golden Boot chase with 15 goals.)

5. Seattle Sounders – There is so much to talk about after Sigi Schmid’s team gutted out a 1-0 win in Columbus despite playing most of the match a man down. Clint Dempsey has yet to find the score sheet, and Eddie Johnson decided the time was right for a “Pay me!” celebration.

source:  4. Colorado Rapids – Oscar Pareja’s young team was going for 10 in a row without a loss but was undone by Kansas City’s pressure in a 2-1 loss in the heartland.

3. Sporting Kansas City – There hasn’t been much scoring around Sporting KC for a while, so Saturday’s 2-1 win over Colorado (on a late Graham Zusi (pictured at right) winner and a spectacular strike from Benny Feilhaber) brought much needed relieve around Sporting Park.

2. LA Galaxy – Landon Donovan crept to within two goals of the all-time league record in the Galaxy’s latest team-on-a-mission statement, a commanding 3-0 win over rival San Jose. Meanwhile, it is looking more and more like league the MVP honor will be Robbie Keane’s to lose.

1. Real Salt Lake – This team is scoring in bunches, having just recorded four in consecutive league matches for the first time in club history. (Having scored three in the match prior to that, no less.) Friday’s 4-2 win over Portland was dominant and stylish, with some wonderful movement and passing, so much orchestrated by that midfield of abundant balance and talent.

With new, ambitious owners in Columbus, Robert Warzycha’s hourglass never had much sand

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If anyone out there liked Robert Warzycha’s chances of remaining in place as the Columbus Crew manager, that person would certainly define “optimistic.”

Truly, the surprising part is that Warzycha survived as long as he did in Columbus. That may look odd considering the man’s 70-59-41 overall record; in a league built on foundations of parity, nothing north of .500 can be labeled egregiously poor.

But Warzycha simply had too many things going against him. That starts, of course, with the recent takeover by new owner Anthony Precourt, who purchased the team from Hunt Sports Group (the club’s original owners) in late July. New owners, almost by definition, mean new energy and renewed ambition, so the old guard always has reason to fear.

Warzycha was even further behind in the game. To start, he was going backward; his first season, 2009, was easily the best of his five years in charge. And that was with the team Sigi Schmid built (and won the MLS Cup with in 2008).

Even then, Warzycha found a way to punctuate his debut year as a pro manager on a real downer, never mind the Supporters Shield just had just been claimed. The coach notoriously chose to leave Guillermo Barros Schelotto on the bench as the playoffs opened at Real Salt Lake. It backfired, as Columbus tumbled in the series to the eventual champs, and Warzycha’s regard around Crew Stadium began a long, slow decline that he never managed to arrest.

Discontent grew in 2010 and 2011 as the Crew made the playoffs but fell out of the first round both years. Things regressed further in 2012 when Federico Higuain’s arrival helped inspire a late-summer run and reach for the playoffs that was just this side of heroic – but one that fell short. The Crew failed to make the playoffs for the first time in Warzycha’s tenure.

Things were looking increasingly bleak for post-season joy in 2013, which meant Warzycha was about to go five seasons without a playoff series win. That’s practically indefensible in MLS, even for a club on a tight salary budget.

Meanwhile, the no-nonsense Polish manager had trouble building any corner of support; he wasn’t the lovable, quotable figure that Schmid had been. That means he as no media darling; fairly or not, that helps. Nor was he a fan fav, which can also assist in prolonged employment.

(MORE: Crew fire Robert Warzycha, name Brian Bliss interim boss)

Beyond the bottom line, Warzycha had even more working against him. For instance, he had more protection under HSG, historically cautious and conservative in personnel dealings. Going from cautious to eager and ambitious was practically a pink slip in itself. (Fans, by the way, sometimes tossed pink slips into the air during his pre-game introduction at Crew Stadium, hardly an endorsement the new man in charge wants to see.)

Stylistically, the Crew was something less than pleasing on the eye. Warzycha’s teams were mostly build from grinders. They were hard to beat because they were so well drilled, so tightly organized back to front. But while teams like Real Salt Lake and Portland learned to win in high style, and while teams like Los Angeles and New York won their respective shares through star power, most success around Columbus lately was about grit, grind and Higuain’s expertise.

That’s fine if you’re winning; it’s an easy target when success is middling or worse.

It wasn’t enough, apparently, to avoid a second consecutive year beyond the playoff velvet rope (in a league where it is still easier, mathematically, to make the playoffs than to miss). All totaled, you just had to know that Warzycha’s days were numbered.

Columbus Crew fire Robert Warzycha, Brian Bliss named interim boss

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On Monday morning the Columbus Crew parted ways with manager Robert Warzycha after over five years in charge in Ohio.

Columbus’ poor recent form has seen Warzycha lose his job, with the Crew having a 8-13-5 record and only D.C. United and Chivas USA have lost more games this season in MLS.

New Crew Chairman and Investor-Operator Anthony Precourt hasn’t been in charge for too long before making a massive decision to change the coaching direction of the club.

(MORE: Analysis on Warzycha’s dismissal from Crew Stadium)

In a statement on the clubs website Crew President & General Manager Mark McCullers had the following to say.

“Following a thorough evaluation of the club with Anthony [Precourt], we determined that Robert’s contract would not be extended beyond 2013,” McCullers said. “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.”

After watching the side closely before the purchase of the Crew, Precourt believes the decision to fire Warzycha is the right decision for the future of the club.

I have been intently following this team since mid-April when we decided to explore the possibility of acquiring the Crew. When I became the club’s new Chairman, I said that I would take the necessary time to be thoughtful and evaluate where we needed to make changes. When we came to the conclusion that we were not going to retain Robert beyond this season, it was apparent that we needed to make this change now so that we can refocus the club around Brian’s leadership for the remainder of this season, as well as get the process started on finding a new head coach.

During Warzycha’s time in charge the Crew won the 2009 Supporters’ Shield, made back-to-back semifinal runs in the CONCACAF Champions League and reached the 2010 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final.

Warzycha’s record of 70-59-41 was tied with Tom Fitzgerald (1996-2001) for the most regular-season wins (70) as a Head Coach of the Crew. After taking over on an interim basis in 2005 following the dismissal of Greg Andrulis, Warzycha was assistant coach as Sigi Schmid led Columbus to a MLS Cup in 2008.

The Crew’s new Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss was respectful of Warzycha’s achievements and promised to help turn things around while he’s at the helm.

“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,” Bliss said. “I’m confident in our players and the talent on our roster. Our fans deserve to see the best out of this team, and I plan to do what’s necessary to make that happen.”

(MORE: MLS Week in Review, Round 27)

So Columbus search for a new head coach begins as they try to rebuild the Ohio club back to its former glories. Can they follow the lead up the Portland Timbers who last year fired John Spencer and handed the reins on an interim basis to Gavin Wilkinson.

That gave Portland time to find the right man in Caleb Porter and Columbus should take all the time they can to try and fine the perfect replacement to Warzycha.

Who should take charge?