Brian Bliss and Robert Warzycha's offseason plans are starting to come together, as the Crew finally has an experienced leftback on its roster after the club added free agent defender Tyson Wahl Thursday morning.
Wahl joins the Black & Gold following stints with the Montreal Impact and Colorado Rapids in 2012 after successful tenures in Kansas City and Seattle over his first six MLS seasons. The 28-year-old will fight for the starting leftback spot when preseason training camp opens on January 17.
"This is an opportunity I'm really looking forward to and I'm looking forward to helping the backline in anyway I can to contribute to 2013 success," the new signing said via phone Thursday afternoon.
Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 185 pounds, Bliss and Warzycha like the physicality Wahl brings to the Crew backline while also providing a left-footed option for dead-ball situations and an attacking option on the left side.
"He's a typical left-footer," Warzycha said of Wahl. "I think in Seattle he did very well taking set-pieces and going up the left side of the field. He's very good physically and good on set-pieces. I think we added a very good player."
Added Bliss, "He's a natural left-footed player, he's got good size. He's combative, yet calm enough that when you want to play out of the back, you can play through him with his passing ability. He gives you that, plus the experience of playing in the League for seven seasons. He shouldn't miss a beat coming to the Crew."
Wahl was passed on during MLS Re-Entry after making just four starts for the Rapids during the second half of 2012, but the veteran is feeling re-energized to join the Crew in 2013.
"2012 was kind of a rocky year for me, just because I had two big moves: Seattle to Montreal and Montreal to Colorado," Wahl elaborated. "In Montreal I played a fair amount, but we weren't getting results. In Colorado I wasn't playing much and we weren't getting results. I didn't really end 2012 the way I wanted to and there is definitely a sour taste in my mouth. I'm excited for a fresh start and I'm going into it with an open mind. I just want to contribute to the success in 2013. I want as big of a role as possible. I do want to be a starter and I want to be a consistent starter. At the end of the day, I just want 2013 to be a successful year."
Warzycha believes the veteran is a player who just needs a chance to prove himself once again.
"From my point of view, someone has to give him the chance to play a little bit because he's a good player," the Head Coach explained. "He can be a starter for any team."
And as it stands right now, Wahl will be a starter. With the Crew technical staff looking to move Josh Williams back to his natural positions of rightback and centerback, Wahl is the natural choice at leftback when the Crew opens the 2013 season on March against Chivas USA, although the Black & Gold are still looking to add competition at that role via the upcoming MLS SuperDraft or the international market.
"We've put our depth chart together, and right now [Wahl] is penciled in at starting leftback," Bliss said. "We're obviously looking to address the left side, as we have been since November. We've got some things in the works, but sometimes things go afoul and don't work out.
"If they don't work out, Tyson is our guy at leftback."