OBETZ, Ohio – There will be no changing of the guard in Columbus. At least, not if Crew technical director Brian Blliss has any say in it.
Bliss confirmed to MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday that the club backs the return of head coach Robert Warzycha for next season despite the team missing the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time since 2007.
“He’s been here before,” Bliss said. “He’s been here as an assistant coach, a player and now head coach. We won a Supporters’ Shield with him in ’09. That wasn’t by accident. I’ve got to believe he will, with my help and [Crew president Mark McCullers’] help and the rest of the staff’s help, try to get this ship in a forward direction to get us back to where we were.”
Fan criticism will likely mount for Warzycha despite posting a 14-12-7 mark this year. It’s the first time in club history they’ve missed the playoffs with a winning record.
“I don’t look at it like that,” Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “We didn’t make the playoffs. That’s the bottom line. I’m responsible for the results of the team.”
Bliss stressed that everyone in the organization will be under review by the owners, Hunt Sports Group, at the conclusion of the season and no determination of contracts for the coaching staff and players have been made yet.
“Mark’s going to get looked at on the business side, the soccer side,” Bliss said. “I’m going to get looked at on the soccer side. Robert and the rest of the staff are going to get looked at on the soccer side.”
Several Crew players interviewed Tuesday said everyone must share the blame for not qualifying.
“All of us are at fault,” defender Sebastián Miranda said. “We are a team. It’s not one player or the coach. [Warzycha] is not the only one responsible.”
Added midfielder Chris Birchall, “It’s got to be with the players, really. We’re the ones that go out on the pitch and play.
“Obviously, the coach gets the plaudits when all goes well and gets the criticism when it goes wrong as well. It’s part and parcel of life and football. I’m sure he can deal with it and we can as players.”
The Crew have one win in the last four games and were eliminated following a defeat at D.C. United on Saturday, a continuation of the late-season slides under Warzycha since he took over for Sigi Schmid following the 2008 season.
Warzycha’s regular-season record in September and October (not including a 3-4-2 mark as interim coach in 2005) is 10-16-5 for a winning percentage of .403.
“It is an alarming statistic, for sure,” Bliss said. “We’ve got to delve into this.”
The numbers in Warzycha’s first two full seasons might be skewed a bit because of fatigue from outside competitions those months (four CONCACAF Champions League games in 2009 and four CCL games and the semifinal and final of the US Open Cup in 2010), but there was no such fixture congestion the past two years. Nonetheless, the Crew were 2-5-1 last season and are currently 3-4-1 during that stretch this year.
Meanwhile, Warzycha is 44-24-28 (.604) from March through August for an overall record of 54-40-33 (.555) since the start of the 2009 season, when he guided the team to their second straight Shield.
He also has a 1-4 (.200) record in the postseason and Columbus have not gotten past the first round.
“We have to look hard and see what we can do better,” Warzycha said.