Warzycha Feeling Heat?
From wonder coach to one year wonder, the idea that Robert Warzycha’s position as head coach of the Crew is under question would have been shocking a month ago, but the October swoon, early playoff exit, and some odd personnel choices have focused some of the blame on the rookie head man.
First off, Hunt Sports Group won’t fire Warzycha, have stuck with coaches with far worse records. Barring that, they are too cheap to buy out his contract. He will have time to retool the Crew and prepare them for the 2010 season.
Even if his employment isn’t under real threat, I still have questions about his handling the last quarter of the season and the playoffs. This was a team in awful form the last couple of months. After getting demolished in Mexico by Cruz Azul, they dropped a game against New York, and did not look convincing against Houston and Chicago. There were signs this team was already struggling.
The added games forced him into an aggressive rotation policy. This was vital as the Crew worked their way through a heavy load of games in September, but as October rolled around, Warzycha did not tighten the roster. He believed that there were no set starters and I fully believe that this led to the uneven performances heading towards the playoffs.
I was really confused with his decision to leave star forward Guillemo Barros Schelotto on the bench in Salt Lake. He did not even make a subs appearance. He chose Renteria and Lenhart instead, the same Renteria that wasn’t in the 18 five days later at Crew Stadium. I understand tactics, but that lineup shuffling is much more confusing.
One last thing that troubles me is that Warzycha repeatedly said that the Crew looked the better team in games that they lost. He said it again on Thursday night after Salt Lake came into Crew Stadium and ended Columbus’s season. Even though the Crew outshot RSL, they did not look like the sharper team. Salt Lake controlled the midfield and had a couple of chances early that would have killed off the game before it started. I saw a team that was outplayed (even slightly) on their home field with playoff advancement on the line.
I certainly don’t want to overlook what Warzycha achieved this season. He was able to successfully guide the Crew to a 2nd Supporter’s Shield and passage to the knockout stages of the Champions League. That is something that no other coach in MLS can say this year. I hope that he learns from this dose of failure and retools the team back into Cup contention in 2010.