When Tyson Wahl signed with the Crew on January 3, the veteran defender welcomed a fresh start. Joining his third team in two years, Wahl has taken little time to adapt to his new surroundings thanks to an old friend and teammate in Chad Marshall.
Marshall was one of the first people Wahl called after signing with the Black & Gold, along with his former teammate in Seattle and ex-Crew midfielder Brad Evans.
"[Marshall] has kind of told me where to go and what to look for, in terms of living in Columbus," Wahl said. "He and Brad Evans have given me some good suggestions."
Wahl and Marshall's history together dates back to their club days in Southern California, playing together on state tournament teams as teenagers. The two then spent a year together in the United States U-17 National Team Residency program in Bradenton, Fla. in 2000-01, traveling the world while developing into elite youth soccer players.
"We grew up playing against each other in California, I played for a team called Arsenal and [Wahl] played for a team called the Slammers," Marshall reflected. "We both went to [U.S. U-17] Residency together and then when we came back, we played for the Irvine Strikers for the last few years of club."
"When we played with each other on the Irvine Strikers, we were just kids showing up at club soccer practice," Wahl added. "Obviously, everything was different when we showed up at Residency. It was like going to college a year before, so we were living in dorms pretty close to each other."
From Southern California, the two traveled North for college where they became rivals. Wahl played collegiately at Cal-Berkeley for four years, while Marshall spent two seasons at Stanford before turning pro in 2004.
"College was exciting and it was definitely competitive," Wahl reflected. "Those first couple years, Stanford was really strong. Chad was on a really good team. It was fun to play against him."
Despite the competitive Northern California rivalry, Wahl and Marshall never let it affect their relationship.
"I don't think we took it too seriously, the Cal-Stanford rivalry, but we played some good games for sure," the two-time MLS Defender of the Year said.
Following college, the two players became busy with their respective MLS careers. While Marshall has been a mainstay for the Black & Gold since being drafted by the Crew in 2004, Wahl has become a journeyman in the League after he was drafted by Kansas City in 2006 and making stops in Seattle, Montreal, Colorado and now Columbus since.
"Playing in the League, it's been tough to maintain a normal friendship because [Marshall] has been here and I've been bouncing around," Wahl explained. "Whenever we would see each other we'd say hello and exchange a few text messages. I feel like it's been put on hold for a while. Hopefully we can catch up now."
Reunited in Columbus, Wahl and Marshall have started all three matches thus far in the 2013 preseason. Due to the two defenders' past history, it's taken little time for Wahl to be integrated into the Crew backline. The Black & Gold's first unit has yet to concede a goal this preseason.
"I know Chad's game really well and I know how he likes to play," Wahl said. "It makes it easier We can yell at each other on the field and I know that we'll get over it. It definitely helps me too, because sometimes I flip-flop between leftback and centerback. It's helpful to have a solid player like Chad that I'm familiar with."
"When we were on the U.S. U-17s together-- I know that was a long time ago-- but we played centerback with each other," Marshall added. "I think we have a good understanding of what the other likes to do and our tendencies in certain situations. It's been good. We picked up pretty quickly and we played really well down in Florida."
The Crew will resume its preseason schedule on Saturday, February 9 against Toronto FC (1:00 p.m. ET/ LIVE Stream) at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Orlando, Fla.