COLUMBUS — As the Austin City Council gets ready to debate Precourt Sports Ventures’ proposal for a Major League Soccer stadium on city land, PSV’s official promotional team, MLS2ATX, debuted a video of Austin residents voicing their support.
The first face in that video may have come as a surprise — former Columbus Crew SC defender Tyson Wahl.
Now retired from professional soccer, Wahl played in MLS for 10 seasons, the plurality of which came in Columbus. He made 74 appearances from 2013-16 before multiple concussions forced him out of the game. Wahl is the first former Crew SC player to show support for the Austin relocation efforts. In an exclusive interview with Pro Soccer USA, he shared why he supports the movement.
After retiring in 2016, Wahl and his family moved to California, where he is originally from. He moved to Austin about five months later when his wife took a job at the University of Texas at Austin. She had previously lived there and fell in love with the city. Since June, 2017, Wahl has worked as the youth development director for the Austin Texans soccer club, coaching and directing.
In his short time in Austin, Wahl has also come to love the city as well.
“It’s super active. It’s a fun culture with a lot of good food…very green, very outdoorsy, I really enjoy it,” Wahl said, “It’s a popular city, and there’s good reason for it. I think that Austin has the right culture and excitement [for an MLS team]. It’s an intelligent and innovative city, and I think that’s exactly the type of city that MLS clubs do well in. There is a huge movement of people coming here. It’s a great city and would be a great place to have an MLS club.”
Under the current plan, any move to Austin from MLS would result in Columbus losing its team. When asked for his feelings on that, Wahl said, “I have super fond memories of my time in Columbus. I had a great time there and I loved playing for that team. I really enjoyed my four years there. I think the [#SavetheCrew campaign] is the natural thing that a group of fans would do in this scenario.
“I follow the Crew closely. I support the team and those players…I wish them all good luck, as I do many players across the league.”
Wahl had no comment when asked if MLS or PSV could’ve handled the news of the potential move in a better way.
Wahl said he was not compensated for his involvement in the video, which generated immediate backlash from Crew SC fans on social media after they saw a former player actively participate in a campaign to move the team.
“Obviously, I’ve been following this season. I’ve been following the story the whole time. I know there would be a group of fans that wouldn’t be too happy to see that,” Wahl said, “I just think that Austin is a great city and MLS can do very well in this city. With other clubs around the country right now, like the Atlantas and the Orlandos, doing so well in their cities, the standard has really risen. Austin can have that type of support.”
The Austin City Council will vote June 28 on whether to enter negotiations with PSV for the use of McKalla Place or to open the lot for other bids.