COLUMBUS, Ohio – So often the athletes representing a professional team are out-of-towners who don’t have longstanding roots in the community.
But when the Crew took to their home pitch on Sunday, they were truly Columbus.
Five of the starters played for area high schools and a sixth, defender Josh Williams, followed the Crew while growing up in northeastern Ohio.
Three of the five locals were from the Crew Soccer Academy, marking the most Homegrown players to ever start for Columbus. A fourth, midfielder Ben Speas, was an unused substitute during the 1-0 win against Portland.
"It says something about our academy and our development," Homegrown goalkeeper Matt Lampson told MLSsoccer.com after the match. "In the future, you can tell there's going to be a lot more coming out and they're all going to be solid like us."
"I think I underestimated the feeling you would get when you step on the field in front of your friends and family," Trapp said. "It was awesome."
Other central Ohioans were veteran defender Danny O'Rourke and midfielder Konrad Warzycha. The son of coach Robert Warzycha was born in Poland but raised in Columbus and, like Lampson, played for Ohio State.
Warzycha also made his first league start.
Defender Chad Marshall was particularly happy for the younger Warzycha and Trapp because they've been practicing with the Crew for many summers.
"Having trained with them years ago it's cool to finally see them get to this stage," Marshall told MLSsoccer.com on Sunday.
The game turned into a celebration of soccer in Ohio: Former University of Akron coach Caleb Porter returned for the first time as the Timbers coach and saw not only ex-Zips Barson and Trapp start, but Akron products Darlington Nagbe and Ben Zemanski started for the Timbers as well.
"Those are guys I worked with and guys that I care for," Porter said of Barson and Trapp. "I'm happy for any of the guys I coached."
Portland had a third player who attended high school in northeastern Ohio before going to Akron in the game, when Michael Nanchoff came off the bench in the 82nd minute.
"That showed the pedigree the state of Ohio has that all those people can produce and be successful professionally out there," Lampson said. "It's not even central Ohio but northern Ohio, too, and even [Chicago Fire defender] Austin Berry in southern Ohio. They're all doing well. I'm glad to be a Buckeye."