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A look back at the history of Crew coaching debuts

A brief look at the history of coaching debut by Columbus Crew Head Coaches

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Crew kicked off the 2014 MLS season with a bang Saturday night with their 3-0 win versus D.C. United. As the Black and Gold took the field, they were under the watchful eye of new Head Coach, Gregg Berhalter. When the game clock struck 92:07,the final whistle blew, and Gregg Berhalter recorded his first win as the Crew's Head Coach. There is certainly a buzz about the team and the style in which Berhalter has them playing. Winning 3-0 on the road against arch rival's D.C. United,is certainly responsible for much of the good feeling around Crew Nation.

The Crew have had a total of eight head coaches, including interim coaches, since the club was founded in 1996.Now that Berhalter has now recorded his first competitive game with the Crew, let's take a look at the history of Crew Coaches in their first game in charge of Columbus.

Timo Liekoski
December 5, 1995 - August 2, 1996
First Game- 4-0 win vs D.C. United, home
Liekoski has the prestigious honor of being on the sidelines for the first game in Crew history. He led the Crew to a 4-0 win vs D.C. United at Ohio Stadium in front of a crowd of over 25,000 fans on the strength of two Brian McBride goals.

Tom Fitzgerald
August 2, 1996 - May 17, 2001
First Game- 2-0 win vs LA Galaxy, away
Fitzgerald was promoted as Head Coach of the Crew after serving under Timo Liekoski as an assistant coach. Like his predecessor, he was successful in his first game in charge with a 2-0 win against the LA Galaxy at the Rose Bowl.

Greg Andrulis
May 17, 2001- July 5, 2005
First Game - 2-1 win vs D.C. United, home
Like Tim Liekoski, Andrulis was able to taste success against D.C. United in his first game in charge of the Crew. Andrulis' men took down D.C. United with goals from Brian McBride and Jeff Cunningham, while finishing the game with 9 men.

Robert Warzycha
July 12, 2005 - October 20, 2005
First Game - 1-1 tie vs Chicago Fire, away
For the first time in Crew history, three points were not picked up immediately following a coaching change. Eric Vasquez helped rescue a point for the Crew when he tied the game in the 54th minute. Warzycha finished the season as Head Coach, but was replaced with the following manager.

Sigi Schmid
October 20, 2005 - December 16, 2008
First Game - 1-3 loss vs Kansas City Wizards, away
The most successful coach in Crew history was the first coach to lose their first game in charge. The Crew fell behind early with goals from Davy Arnuad and Jack Jewsbury but, they got back into the game with Kei Kamara netting one for the Crew. Eddie Johnson eventually added another to seal the victory for KC, and handing Sigi his first loss.

Robert Warzycha
December 23, 2008 - September 2, 2013
First Game - 1-1 tie vs Houston Dynamo, away
Warzycha's second tenure as leader of the Crew brought back the same point total as his first stint. Houston took a 1-0 lead behind a goal from Brian Ching in the 53rd minute. As Crew fans came to expect, a little bit of magic from Guillermo Barros Schelotto in the 83rd made sure the defending MLS Cup Champions did not leave empty handed.

Brian Bliss
September 2, 2013- November 6, 2013
First Game - 2-0 win vs Houston Dynamo, home
Bliss recorded a win for a new Crew Head Coach for the first time since Greg Andrulis beat D.C. United in 2001. The goals came from a pair of former 1st round draft picks as Ryan Finley scored in the 47th minute and Justin Meram capped off in the 74th minute to give Bliss a positive start to his Crew coaching career.

Gregg Berhalter
November 6, 2013 - Current
First Game - 3-0 win vs D.C. United, away
For the 3rd time in Crew history a new coach would debut against D.C. United, and just like in the past, the Crew came out victorious. Jairo Arrieta side footed a cross home to give the Crew a early first half lead at RFK Stadium. After a foul in the box, Federico Higuain smashed home the penalty kick to give the Crew a 2-0 lead at half-time. Late in the contest Higuain would not be denied his 2nd goal, as he side footed home a cross to give the Crew a resounding 3-0 victory.

The Crew have had an overall positive beginning when a new coach takes the reigns (5-1-2). However, Sigi Schmid recorded the only loss for a new coach but went on to become the most successful Crew coach of all-time. The early signs from Berhalter are exciting, but wins and losses will ultimately decide how history views Berhalter.

Interesting Numbers

  • Crew has only faced 4 different clubs in their 8 coaching debuts
  • Columbus has recorded 3 win against D.C. United in coaching debuts, while only tallying 27 all-time wins against D.C.

  • Robert Warzycha is responsible for both ties for new Crew coaches

  • 16 goals have been scored in coaching debuts, while only 6 have been given up.