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Columbus Crew part ways with Robert Warzycha, name Brian Bliss interim coach

The Columbus Crew have released head coach Robert Warzycha, along with assistant coaches Ricardo Iribarren and Vojislav Stanisic. Technical Director Brian Bliss has been named coach on an interim basis while a search is conducted for a permanent hire. Assistant coach Mike Lapper has also been retained through the end of the season.

Robert Warzycha has been removed as head coach of the Columbus Crew
Bob Levey / Getty

Columbus currently sits in eighth position in the Eastern Conference with an 8-13-5 (W-L-T) record. They are eight points behind the New England Revolution, who occupy the fifth and final playoff position. Chicago and Houston also sit between Columbus and New England.

Team president Mark McCullers oversaw the decision to remove Warzycha, in conjunction with new owner Andrew Precourt. The decision was taken at the end of a review period that began in April, as Precourt was evaluating whether to purchase the Crew.

"After careful consideration and consultation with our owner", said McCullers, "we determined that we would not be renewing Robert's contract at the end of 2013. Upon coming to that conclusion, we felt that it was best to go ahead and make a coaching change now, both for the sake of the organization and in the best interest of Robert."

It is hard to contemplate the Columbus Crew without Robert Warzycha involved in some capacity. He debuted for the team on June 19, 1996 and went on to play 187 games for the team. His final appearance came in the US Open Cup Final on October 24, 2002 - the first of several trophies the Crew earned with his assistance.

Waryzcha joined the coaching staff after the 2002 season, although his last year had been spent as a player-assistant coach. He assisted Greg Andrulis for the next three seasons, including in 2004 when the club won the Supporters Shield. He led the team on an interim basis for the final 16 games of the 2005 campaign after Andrulis was removed.

With the arrival of Sigi Schmid in 2006, Warzycha stepped back into an assistant position, during which time the Crew won MLS Cup and the Supporters Shield in 2008. Upon Schmid's departure for Seattle, Warzycha was promoted to the head position.

Columbus under Robert Warzycha won the Supporters Shield in 2009, and advanced to the US Open Cup final in 2010. In two years of competition in the CONCACAF Champions League, the team advanced to the quarterfinals both years. Unfortunately, the team was never able to advance past the first round the MLS Cup Playoffs, and failed to qualify in 2012.

Warzycha's final league record as a coach (interim or full) is 70 wins, 59 losses and 41 ties. Those 70 victories are tied with Tom Fitzgerald for the most in club history. Including all official competitions, the Crew have played 644 games since 1996 - but this Wednesday's game will be just the twelfth in which Robert Warzycha has not played a part.