COLUMBUS, Ohio – Robert Warzycha and the Crew opened the season with a bang. But as the year progressed, they couldn’t maintain the pace while juggling US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League play.
By the time the MLS Cup Playoffs opened, Columbus were the No. 2 seed in the East despite leading the conference for most of the year. And then they were undone in the first round, falling to eventual champions Colorado on penalty kicks.
There’s plenty for Warzycha to look back on as far as good things. But he and the club are preparing for the future by severing many ties with their aging past. MLSsoccer.com recently sat down with the Crew coach to discuss what went right in 2010, what went wrong and what the future holds.
MLSsoccer.com: What were your highlights of the season?
[inline_node:312292]Warzycha: We accomplished a lot under the circumstances. We got to the Open Cup final, which we had to win at DC [in the semifinal], which is a very tough place to play. For the first half of the season, we were very consistent and very good.
Maybe fans like to complain, but we had a lot of games at the end of the season. I think since the end of July, we had 12 more games than Colorado. At the end of the year, the schedule wasn’t in favor of us but we still managed to get 50 points, more than last year, but I wish the players were a little bit fresher.
MLSsoccer.com: What were your best games of the season?
Warzycha: Look at the game against LA at home [on May 29]. We lost 2-0 but that was a very, very good game. Look at the last game against Colorado in the playoffs [the Crew won the second leg 2-1 to tie the aggregate but lost 5-4 on penalty kicks]. We put everything on the plate. We were good.
MLSsoccer.com: What was your most disappointing moment?
Warzycha: Not being able to pass the first round of the playoffs. After the good season we had, we came up short.
MLSsoccer.com: Any regrets in your decision-making?
Warzycha: Yeah, I would do some things different but I’m not going to tell you. What would the outcome be? I don’t know. Maybe we would be losing the games. If you make a decision and something doesn’t go right, you always question yourself.
MLSsoccer.com: Which players improved the most?
Warzycha: Shaun Francis. He got some games as a rookie and gained experience. Andy Gruenebaum definitely got better after he had the surgery. He was very solid. Chad Marshall was very solid. He played good all season. Maybe he had one or two games that he overran or underestimated the fowards, but he was very good.
[inline_node:320024]MLSsoccer.com: What needs to change to improve next season?
Warzycha: The flank play wasn’t there for us this year. I’m hoping we have games like we had in the last game against Colorado. Eddie Gaven and Robbie Rogers were so active. That’s what we need.
We have to have more people scoring. If you think of Steven Lenhart, he had 10 or 11 goals overall this year. That’s more than he ever produced. The same with Andy Iro. He had six or seven in all games. Emilio Renteria was a huge improvement this year and Andrés Mendoza had four goals in all competitions playing only a few games.
MLSsoccer.com: After all the roster moves that have been made recently, what are your thoughts on next season?
Warzycha: Look, we are not doing what we’ve done because we want to be a bad team. We still have our core of players that won a championship two years ago. They are not getting worse. We will do what we always try to do – win the games.
Ready to Launch: MLS Matchday 2010, The official MLS iPhone app. It's FREE! Download it here!