After becoming the Columbus Crew‘s new owner one month ago, Anthony Precourt has made his first but expected major decision. Head coach Robert Warzycha was fired along with assistant coaches Ricardo Iribarren and Vojislav Stanisic. For the remainder of the season, current technical director Brian Bliss will take over the helm. Precourt said in a club statement:
“I have been intently following this team since mid-April when we decided to explore the possibility of acquiring the Crew. When we came to the conclusion that we were not going to retain Robert beyond this season, it was apparent that we needed to make this change now so that we can refocus the club around Brian’s leadership for the remainder of this season, as well as get the process started on finding a new head coach.”
As Precourt mentioned, this move was expected in MLS circles and the time was right for Warzycha’s tenure to end. The head coach was in his fifth year as manager and has been in either a player or coaching role since the Crew’s inaugural season in 1996.
The move is bittersweet for interim coach Bliss as he explained in the club’s statement saying:
“It is with mixed emotions that I accept this position. Robert is a true professional and a close friend, and I will personally miss working with him.”
However, Bliss is also confident in the Crew’s current talent and this new situation.
“Sometimes in these situations a fresh perspective and a new voice are needed. I’m confident in our players and the talent on our roster. I know these guys have a lot of fight in them, and they have the desire to continue battling and finish strong. Our fans deserve to see the best out of this team, and I plan to do what’s necessary to make that happen.”
The Crew are still outside the playoff picture looking in and are eight points from the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
One thing is for certain – Precourt will make more changes in the off-season as he makes the Crew into what he envisions the organization becoming. This off-season could bring a re-branding effort for the Crew as well.