Tyson Wahl came to the Sounders FC as a center back from the Kansas City Wizards in the expansion draft before last season.
He started 16 games in 2008 and played in 32 games in three seasons with the Wizards. For nearly all of that time, he was a center back.
Then he came to Seattle and when Tyrone Marshall and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado took a stronghold on the center back spots, Wahl moved to left back. One year later, he’s making a further adjustment to his game to fit more into Seattle’s up-tempo style.
Wahl was supplanted in the starting lineup late in the season after the addition of Leo Gonzalez and now he’s striving to regain that spot.
He came into camp fit and has shown flare with the ball as he becomes an attacking left back.
“You have to be much more fit and better on the ball. You have to make quicker decisions on the ball and when to make overlapping runs. It’s really a much different position. Even though you’re still a defender, you’re covering a lot of ground,” Wahl said.
His fitness and confidence on the ball have shown in spades in training camp as the Sounders FC prepare for MLS Opening Kick March 25 against the Philadelphia Union at Qwest Field. It certainly wasn’t an overnight transformation though.
Always known to be a fit player at center back, Wahl has transformed some of his mentalities on the field to fit the mold of the attacking defender.
“I don’t think what I needed to work on was fitness. I don’t think that was what was keeping me from being on the team, but as a left back I have to run more than when I was a center back,” he said. “Getting forward might have been one of the reasons I wasn’t playing more, so I worked with (Sounders FC fitness coach) Dave Tenney on some of my fitness deficiencies and I ended up coming in pretty fit.”
Now well entrenched into the position, Wahl is developing more confidence by the day as he shows growth in his ball skills and offensive capabilities.
“It’s something I feel like I can do. I just haven’t done it in a while. Last year I spent a lot of time working on crossing and running with the ball and now I feel really confident doing that,” he said. “When you play center back, you’re used to winning balls and laying them off. You’re rarely running forward with the ball. Now I’ve been doing it for a few months and I’m definitely more confident.”
Wahl will get his first opportunity to test himself against live competition Thursday when the Sounders face the Vancouver Whitecaps in a training game in Casa Grande, Arizona. Kickoff is set for 10:30 am Pacific Time and the game will be live-blogged on SoundersFC.com.