Tyson Wahl, the seven-year MLS veteran signed by the Crew on Thursday, is looking for a fresh start after an unsatisfying season with two teams in 2012.
Wahl, 28, is expected to provide depth and also challenge for a starting role at either center back or left back on what so far is a thin backline for Columbus heading into the start of preseason camp in two weeks.
"It's a new opportunity to try and establish myself again as a starter," Wahl told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Thursday afternoon.
After breaking in and spending three seasons with Kansas City from 2006-08, Wahl had his most success with the Seattle Sounders the next three years when he made 39 appearances, including a career-high 22 starts in 2011.
The Sounders dealt him to the Montreal Impact that November, however, and he made 11 starts for the expansion club in 2012 before being traded in July to Colorado, where he made four appearances, all starts.
"In 2011, I enjoyed my best season and played the majority of games," he said. "I felt like I was in form. Getting to that level of form again excites me. I hope I can do that and help Columbus have a successful season."
Crew head coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com he sees Wahl providing experience and versatility at two positions. Even though Columbus lost defenders Julius James, Nemanja Vukovic and Carlos Mendes in the offseason, Warzycha said Wahl has been on the team's radar for awhile.
"His name came up a couple of times before last year, then he was taken in the expansion draft by Montreal," he said.
Still, the coach hinted that the team is in pursuit of a starter at left back in the international market.
"We are in the process of bringing a player from overseas for that position," Warzycha said. "But we wanted [Wahl] to basically cover to make sure we don't miss anything."
Williams stepping up while Miranda moves on
Warzycha said it was a hard choice not to bring back defender Sebastián Miranda, who started all but one game at right back the past two seasons, but the emergence of Josh Williams could make finding his replacement easier.
"Sebastián was a good servant here," Warzycha said. "He played very hard and was absolutely a fantastic professional and players looked up to him.
"It was a very tough call, but we have Josh Williams," he added. "He can really play on the right side and he might be even more effective going forward. He can also play central defender."
Rentería gone, too
Forward Emilio Rentería will not be back, either.
"He wanted to do something back home in Venezuela," Warzycha said. "Actually, we offered him a contract and he didn't take it. We haven't had a conversation with him the last couple of weeks. At this point we have to prepare to go forward without Emilio."
Rentería scored 16 goals in 69 regular season appearances from 2009-12, but managed only three goals in 27 appearances in 2012.