It was a couple of stadiums and more than two decades ago that Brian Maisonneuve made his professional playing career in Columbus. When that period of his life came to a close in 2004 and his first forays into coaching began, his wife, Diania, offered a wish for their family’s future.

“Columbus has always been really special to my wife and me,” he said Thursday afternoon. “When we left I remember my wife saying, ‘If we ever have a chance to get back to this city of Columbus, let’s do it.’ ”

That opportunity arrived this spring when longtime Ohio State men’s soccer coach John Bluem stepped down after 21 seasons. After spending the last nine seasons as an assistant and then associate coach at Indiana, Maisonneuve immediately was interested in the position.

Standing in the sunlight in the southwest corner of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, with a clear line of sight to where the Columbus Crew began Major League Soccer’s inaugural season at Ohio Stadium, the nine-year Crew veteran who was part of the first game in team history described his current situation as a dream come true.

“I really enjoyed IU,” he said. “I played there. I’ve been there for eight years. It’s a great spot, but when this opened up, to come back to Columbus and work for this athletic department and be able to build this program and continue the success from coach Bluem, it’s a dream opportunity.”

Contact with players will be limited during the summer months due to NCAA rules, and Maisonneuve said he will have to get to know some of his players via the telephone rather than in-person workouts. He addressed his new team Thursday morning for the first time, he said, and is in the process of assembling a coaching staff.

With hopes of building a roster full of players who make it known that “it is hard to play against Ohio State,” Maisonneuve said he will make recruiting both locally and within the state a high priority.

“The talent around Columbus is excellent,” he said. “We’re going to focus on recruiting Ohio. If we can get the best kids out of Ohio, we’ll be doing really well.”

In addition, Maisonneuve said he plans to spend some long-awaited time with Crew coach Gregg Berhalter. They played together as kids, against each other in college and then together again with the United States national team.

It has been roughly two years since he attended a Crew game, Maisonneuve said, but he plans to start visiting practice and soliciting advice from Berhalter and his staff. The hope, too, is that such opportunities won’t be limited to just one year as the team’s ownership weighs a move to Austin, Texas, for the 2019 season.

“It’s hard to think of Columbus without the Crew,” he said. “That’s what brought me here, and I’m so thankful for that. Obviously I would absolutely love for the Crew to stay in Columbus. It’s such a great city and I can’t even imagine it without the Crew.”