The other shoe finally dropped on Robert Warzycha's time leading the Columbus Crew when they fired one of the league's longest tenured coaches Monday morning. Rumors and speculation had been swirling for months that this was going to happen and they only intensified when Anthony Precourt took over as owner at the end of July.
"I have been intently following this team since mid-April when we decided to explore the possibility of acquiring the Crew," Precourt said in a team release. "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."
The Crew have lost 8 of 11 matches, including one over the weekend in which they played with a man advantage for almost 85 minutes. That loss left them eight points out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with just eight matches left to play. This will likely be the second straight season the Crew have missed the playoffs.
Technical Director Brian Bliss will assume head coaching duties while the search for a permanent replacement goes on.
Warzycha's time as Crew head coach will be one with mixed narratives. On one hand, he tied the franchise record for most wins (70), won a Supporters' Shield in 2009 and led the Crew to the playoffs for three straight seasons. But he also inherited a team that was coming off a Supporters' Shield-MLS Cup double and proceeded to finish lower in the standings and with a worse goal-difference in each successive season.
"This is a difficult decision that has not been taken lightly," said Crew President & General Manager Mark McCullers. "Robert has been a loyal and dedicated member of this organization for 18 years. He will always be part of the Crew family, and he deserves our respect and acknowledgement for the sacrifices he has made, his numerous accomplishments and all that he has contributed to this club, both as a player and a coach."