Tell me a little about you.
I am from Columbus Ohio, born and raised. I lived there my whole life until last year when I moved out here. I went to Ohio Wesleyan, which is a Division 3 school in Delaware, Ohio, about 30 minutes north of Columbus. I am a diehard Ohio State Buckeye in every facet. I treat it like a professional team, and I enjoy wearing my Ohio State gear here in Gopher Country.
[laughing] Very nice. Way to win friends and influence people! Gotta show your colors, though, right?
Definitely. Everything I wear is red. Unless I wear my Crew stuff, exactly.
So I hear you were a Crew fan from a young age. Tell me the story.
I played club soccer for the same coach my whole life. His name is Chris Duff. He played one year for the Minnesota Thunder, and he was friends with Manny. When I was a young guy I used to go to Columbus Crew games with Chris. When Manny and Tony Sanneh both played on the Columbus Crew, I remember we got there early and Chris called them over because he had worked out with them in the summers. They came over and said hello to me and I thought it was the coolest thing ever, as a little 9 or 10 year old, whatever I was back then. Fast forward 12-13 years later and now I’m playing for one of the guys who was there that day. So I think it’s pretty cool how it comes full circle. I remember telling Manny that story last year, and he got a kick out of it, and was talking about how that’s why it’s always important to always be respectful with the fans at the games because you never know what they’ll grow up to be.
Tell me about your family.
I’m one of three, I’m the baby of the family. My brother is one year older than me, and I enjoyed playing college soccer with him. He was a really good player, but he just didn’t want to continue playing after college. He’s my best friend, and we have a great relationship. I have a sister who is 6 years older than me. She’s a doctor back in Columbus. My mom is retired, she was an internist. My dad was a rheumatologist and now he works for Ohio State in their medical department.
My dad was also born and raised in Columbus. I grew up in a house two streets away from where he grew up. Our family is very close knit. My cousins live 10 minutes away from us. Nobody is really stretched too far away from Columbus.
Until now, yes. It was pretty sad when I left last year, just because I’m so close with my family, but it always makes it that much more special when they come out here. My mom and dad are coming out for the Dome opener this weekend so it’ll be great to see them.
Are you excited about this season? I know you played last season, some, but I’ve heard even better things about you this off season. I’ve been hearing about some significant growth.
When we had our end-of-year meeting with the coaches, Manny told me some stuff to work on and I took it to heart. I’m a firm believer in fitness, and you can only play your best when you’re fit, so I worked my butt off to come in as fit as possible this year. I came in about a month and a half before most of the other guys as well so I could play with the guys who were around here so I could get some good training in.
You all have to work for that spot. There are no guarantees.
I sort of pride myself on being a blue collar worker and those guys [the other forwards] know it, too, so they know when they want to give me advice that I’ll take it to heart, and that’s good, and at the same time I’m never one to yell at those guys or anything, but they’ve approached me before and asked me if I see anything and you can tell they’re very humble people, so they’re fun teammates t o have.
That’s one thing I’ve been asking often, is about team chemistry.
Our team chemistry is great. You know, last year when I was out here, a lot of guys in the locker room were saying, ‘I’ve never been on a team with this close chemistry,’ but I feel like I could be saying the same thing this year.
When asked how he felt about the Dark Clouds, Wall said when he was injured last year, he used to joke around with the other players that he thought he should sit with us because we were more fun. He’d also like to do more on the pitch so he could celebrate with us. He said he was jealous of the players who have been able to do that.
One of my personal goals with the Dark Clouds is to get a cool tifo or have something cool go on with the fans this year. It always makes you feel a little bit more motivated to play when you see fans cheering for you and stuff, and at the same time I know I need to earn that, so it’s sort of intrinsic motivation to… I’m telling myself I need to do that so I can celebrate with you guys.
My main nickname is TWall. Simone started calling me TWallet because I lent him my car all the time. We joked around that I was a rental car agency, and he was behind on some payments. I charged him ten bucks each time – and he was behind on the payments so I started hounding him for them and he started calling me TWallet and that sort of caught on with some of the guys.
You’ll earn your spot, your name.
Yeah, I’m being patient, waiting for my chance, and trying to take all I can in from the guys ahead of me. There’s a reason they’re there. The forwards we signed this year [are older, 2530] and I’m still 22 and I’m waiting my turn and trying to pick up from these guys.
How about for anyone else?
We call Edi Buro; when you get tackled really hard, you get “Buro’d” because he tackles harder than anybody on the team. It’s not so much that he has a nickname, but he has a tackle named after him. I’d take a tackle named after me any day.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for all your support. Even from a standpoint last year where I wasn’t really playing it was hilarious to see the stuff you were cheering at other teams, and what you guys did at the game against San Antonio with the street flares, that was so cool. It was very cool to see from the other side.