Columbus Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers stepped into team manager Robert Warzycha’s office shortly after the team had announced its final round of preseason personnel moves, which included contracts offered to three young players, one of which was Warzycha’s son, Konrad.
Konrad Warzycha’s inclusion in the 2013 Crew roster was, in effect, a homecoming for the Dublin, Ohio, native. After attending Dublin Jerome High School, Konrad came to Ohio State, where he was a three-year starter for the Buckeyes’ men’s soccer team.
McCullers’ visit with Robert Warzycha was the first after the team made the news of signing the coach’s son public.
“I asked him how his wife was,” McCullers said. “She must be very proud and very happy.”
Robert Warzycha’s demeanor both on and off the field could be described as stoic, even detached. That’s not it, though – the word his son and McCullers used to describe Robert Warzycha is “professional,” and the approach didn’t change after he signed his son. Was Robert Warzycha happy to have his son on his team? Is his wife proud? McCullers didn’t learn much from Warzycha’s response.
“(Robert) said, ‘Yeah, I think she is.’ That’s really about the extent of it,” McCullers said with a hearty laugh.
There was a tender moment in the process, according to Konrad Warzycha, who, along with several other teammates, was approached by Robert Warzycha after a team lift during preseason camp in Orlando, Fla., and invited to his hotel room for private discussions.
“When we got back I went into his room and he kinda laid down the contract on the table. From there, I just got a big smile and he said, ‘Congratulations,'” Konrad Warzycha said.
Terms of Konrad Warzycha’s contract, including its length, have not been disclosed, but with the Warzycha father-son duo united under the shield of the Black and Gold, it is clear that both men understand what is expected of them now and in the future when, inevitably, an uncomfortable conversation will take place.
Konrad Warzycha, who spent the last two seasons with Sporting Kansas City, said there was no preferential treatment given to him at any point in the process.
“At the beginning (of camp), that’s what I was working toward (a contract) and that was made clear, and up to that point where the signing happened, it could have gone either way,” he said. “I was kind of left in the dark until my last couple days in Orlando.”
An uncomfortable conversation was avoided right out of the chute thanks to Konrad Warzycha’s play in preseason camp. He saw about 120 minutes of game action in three preseason games during which McCullers said that the player was “noticeable.”
“It’s tough being the coach’s son because you probably have to hold yourself to a higher standard to get a contract to ensure that nobody’s going to question the motives behind it,” McCullers said. “Konrad, without question, earned this opportunity … The good news is that Konrad made it easy. He made it so that there was no question.”
Robert Warzycha was not made available for interviews. Just as McCullers spoke to the professional approach of both Warzychas, Konard Warzycha said he and his father will handle whatever comes their way for as long as they are part of the same organization.
“Obviously, we’ve talked about it a little bit … We’re both professionals. I don’t feel weird about (it). He doesn’t feel weird about it,” Konrad Warzycha said.
The Crew opened the 2013 season Saturday with a 3-0 win against Chivas USA. Konrad Warzycha did not see action in the game. Columbus’ next contest is set for March 9 at 7:30 p.m. against the Vancouver Whitecaps.