COLUMBUS, Ohio — Robert Warzycha is still the Columbus Crew's all-time assist leader with 61, even though he retired nine years ago. So it was natural for the head coach to share credit for his new contract, which was announced Thursday by the club.
He said the multi-year deal is a reflection of the efforts by his assistant coaches to help put the Crew atop the Eastern Conference with an 11-8-7 record. His old contract was set to expire at the end of the season.
“I got an extension because of them,” Warzycha said Thursday. “They are very dedicated. They are a hard-working group. They work so hard to get us where we are now.”
Warzycha, 48, also said having a long-term contract should help in retaining players.
“It is important for all of us, not only me,” he said. “It adds some more stability. For the players who may be at the end of their contracts, they can say, ‘OK, Robert is staying. We know how it’s going to be.’ They may stay with us.”
Warzycha, a Columbus player from 1996-2002 before retiring to join the coaching staff, has the best regular-season winning percentage in Crew history at .578 (45-29-28), including a 7-6-3 stint as interim coach in 2005.
Preliminary contract talks with Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers and representatives from the ownership, Hunt Sports Group, began in early August.
“It was a fairly quick negotiation, and that’s what happens when you have two people that want the same thing,” McCullers said. “It then came together pretty quickly and we were able to finalize it and get it out there in about a week.”
Warzycha made it clear he is happy with the only MLS club he has been with since moving his wife and three children from his native Poland 15 years ago to play in the inaugural season.
“Columbus is my home,” he said. “We as a family feel it is our home. That’s the longest time we’ve ever lived in the same place. The kids went to school here and they have their friends. We have our friends. More than anything, I found the organization that actually appreciates my work and I like to work for them."
McCullers appreciates Warzycha’s commitment.
“I like that he is uniquely loyal to the club,” he said. “He does not want to be anywhere else. He does not want to do anything else. This is his dream job. He wants to win and for this club to be successful as much as anybody I know.
“It’s in his heart. It’s in his blood. He’s got deep roots in the community and is respected in the community,” McCullers continued. “He’s also exceptional soccer mind but when makes mistakes he’s the first one to admit them. That’s another thing I like about him.”