Not wanting to prolong the issue during the stretch run, the Columbus Crew announced Thursday that coach Robert Warzycha has been signed to a multi-year contract to replace the one that expires at the end of this season.
Per club rules, no financial details of the contract were given.
“I believe Robert’s record speaks for itself and that he has unquestionably earned the opportunity to continue leading our club,” Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers said in a statement.
Despite leading the Crew to the final of the 2010 US Open Cup, two straight CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal appearances, and a second-straight Supporters’ Shield in 2009 – his first season at the helm – it wasn’t a given that Warzycha would be given a renewal. The Crew jettisoned many quality and popular players such as Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Frankie Hejduk, Gino Padula and Brian Carroll before the 2011 season, and left many wondering if the club could still contend.
But bolstered by solid signings and a strong draft, Columbus are currently in first in the Eastern Conference with an 11-8-7 record and eight matches left.
“I am not overwhelmed by what we’ve done,” he said last month. “We are in first place right now, but I know there are a lot of games left and the playoffs.”
The key, he said, was keeping the core from the 2008 team such as William Hesmer, Eddie Gaven and Robbie Rogers.
“When we sat down last year and decided to refresh the team, put it that way, we said these are the guys we have to keep,” he said.
Warzycha, a Crew player from 1996-2002 before retiring to join the coaching staff, has the best regular-season winning percentage in club history at .578 (45-29-28), including a 7-6-3 stint as interim coach in 2005.
“I’m encouraged by the direction we’re headed and it is rewarding to know that the organization believes in my coaching philosophy,” he said in a statement.