OBETZ, Ohio — Crew coach Robert Warzycha has a unique perspective when it comes to trying to thwart FC Dallas forward Jeff Cunningham. The same goes for Edson Buddle of the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chicago’s Brian McBride.
He played with each of them during his seven seasons as Crew player.
The trio comprise three of the top four goal scorers in Crew history. Cunningham and McBride are tied for the Crew career lead with 62 regular-season goals. Stern John—who has been playing in England—is third with 44 goals in 51 games while Buddle is fourth with 42 scores.
But Warzycha is not so concerned about them when his Crew team faces their current sides.
“I coach my team not against Brian McBride, not against Jeff Cunningham or Edson Buddle,” Warzycha said. “I’m coaching against the other teams. We’re trying to win whether or not they are on the field.”
The East-leading Crew will try to win on Saturday at Crew Stadium against Cunningham’s current side, FC Dallas, who are sitting in third in the West and riding a league-high 11-game unbeaten streak.
“Jeff is pure speed,” Warzycha said. “He wants the ball in channels. He can beat you with his speed and is a pretty good finisher.”
Cunningham played 182 games for Columbus from 1998 to 2004. In 2001 and 2002 alone, he notched an astounding total of 28 goals and 18 assists. But he was plagued throughout his stay with the Crew by inconsistency and immaturity when things didn’t go well.
“Because of the work rate, I loved to play with Brian and I loved to play with Edson,” Warzycha said. “We got frustrated with Jeff sometimes because he was trying to do too many things by himself. He didn’t allow his teammates to help his game. That’s what I think happened to Jeff.”
Warzycha likes the changes he’s seen in Cunningham at FC Dallas, where the 34-year-old has rediscovered his scoring touch. He had 17 goals last season and leads the club this year with seven. His career total of 128 is four goals behind D.C. United's Jaime Moreno for the all-time goal-scoring mark in MLS.
“Right now he’s matured,” he said. “He’s allowing the teammates to help him and he’s running off the ball, especially at the end of last season. I would love to have Jeff on the field if he played like this.
“He found finally the team that he is scoring goals for and he’s enjoying Dallas,” Warzycha added. “He got married and he’s matured a lot. I’m happy for him.”