Wahl holding down left back spot

Experienced left back providing help on set-pieces

Tyson Wahl

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USA Today Sports

Tyson Wahl knows he's hit the lottery when it comes to restarts for the Columbus Crew.

The veteran left back, who sometimes takes corner and free kicks for Federico Higuain, has never had so many quality aerial options at his disposal.

In the Crew's last match on March 23 at D.C. United he connected with Josh Williams on a header that the right back drove past goalkeeper Bill Hamid to give the backline three of the team's seven goals this season.

All three came off dead ball situations. Williams (6-foot2) has two and Glauber (6-3)  one while Chad Marshall (6-4), considered the Crew's best in the air, has yet to score.

"They serve a good ball, they have some big boys coming up from the back, and they’re difficult to handle," San Jose coach Frank Yallop said following a 1-1 draw on March 16 after Glauber got on the end of a Higuain corner kick.

Wahl said the key is to send a ball to a spot.

"I know as a defender when guys are whipping balls in there on free kicks they're not necessarily picking out a person," he told MLSsoccer.com. "They're picking out a location and expecting somebody to be there.

"As long as you can put a ball in a dangerous area and make the goalie hesitate a little bit - take a step forward and realize he can't get it and take a step back and you have him second-guessing himself. That's when you're really putting your attacking guys in good positions."

Obviously, it helps that the Crew often has a height advantage.

"It's crazy because there's so much attention being paid to Chad and now Glauber and Josh," Wahl said. "We really have a lot of threatening players. It's really hard for teams. Unless they have three big guys, they're going to be in trouble."

The first assist for Wahl since signing a free agent contract on Jan. 3 is another step in holding onto the left back spot after a preseason challenge by Agustin Viana, who was moved to defensive midfield.

Wahl spent last season with Montreal and Colorado after previous stops with Seattle Sounders FC and the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City), where he debuted in 2006.

"Tyson Wahl has something to prove coming in here," Crew president Mark McCullers said. "The experience he had last year is going to be a lot of motivation for him."

Wahl has played every minute so far this season for the Crew (2-1-1).

"He has composure," Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. "He may need to talk more and be louder but he's making good runs and has a good left foot. We saw that in D.C. We needed the ball to be whipped in in-swinging from the right side. That's what he's providing for us."