Coming into the season, Robert Warzycha's seat wasn't exactly hot, but he's coming into his final season of his two year contract extension and the team missed the playoffs in 2012. It had to be a little warm.
His seat has cooled a bit as the team had a good March. The Crew have seven points with two wins, a draw and a single road loss. The offense is humming along and the defense shows signs of solidifying.
The teams he has chosen have been able to get results. He's picked a solid defensive tandem with Danny O'Rourke and Agustin Viana screening the defense. This is to allow Tyson Wahl and Josh Williams to push up. It's a change that's worked. Williams has been a threat on set pieces and during the run of play while Viana and O'Rourke have been mostly up to the task of keeping the ball in the midfield.
This has left the offseason's big name signing, Matias Sanchez, on the bench. Sanchez was supposed to be the missing link, but hasn't been missed yet. O'Rourke has struggled occasionally, but Sanchez was uneven during reserve league action as he presses for more playing time. It may have been a controversial decision on March 2nd, but one that looks solid a month later.
Warzycha also moved Ben Speas up the depth chart. He was the first option to replace the injured Eddie Gaven. Speas hit the ground running with a goal and an assist in three starts. MLSSoccer.com mentioned him as a Player of the Month candidate. That was another good choice by Warzycha. He brought Speas in ahead of Justin Meram and Ethan Finlay and was rewarded.
The biggest management decision is coming up this week. Jairo Arrieta, Dominic Oduro, Federico Higuain, Speas, and Gaven are ready to play. There are only four positions to fill. Warzycha will have to figure out the best lineup. Higuain, Arrieta, and Gaven are first choice players and Speas production has been impressive. Oduro, after struggling on the wing, gave the Crew a new dimension at forward against D.C.
Not only will Warzycha have to put the team on the field that works best together, he will have to soothe the ego of someone who is has been starting and producing this year. It's one of the most delicate parts of the job and one that has the farthest reaching consequences. The coaching staff can ill afford a disgruntled player.
Warzycha is off to a good start, but four games earns him an incomplete with plenty of more tests ahead. The Crew have had good runs in the past only to fizzle at the end of the year. Ultimately the final test will depend if he's able steer the team into the playoffs and head towards MLS Cup. That would take something he hasn't done before, win in the playoffs.