Described as the “crown jewel” of the Crew Youth Academy by Columbus Crew Technical Director, Brian Bliss, Homegrown Player Wil Trapp has been the subject of some high praise recently.
Following his MLS debut, where he started and played the full 90 minutes in a 1-0 victory over Portland, Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha had equally high plaudits for the 20-year-old.
“We knew that when it was time he could step on the field and do a good job. He’s a good player,” said Warzycha postgame last Sunday. “He played for the Academy and we signed him because we knew what he could do and what kind of player he is.
“He grew up here, in Columbus, so we knew when it was time he could step on the field and do a good job. He's a good player.”
Playing as the lone holding midfielder, in a slightly altered Crew formation, Trapp impressed in his MLS debut. He completed the highest percentage of passes of any player on the pitch (86.0%) and won the ball back for the Crew twice as many times as conceded possession (17 wins to 8 losses). The new formation perhaps suited Trapp, who had a similar role while Portland’s Head Coach, Caleb Porter, while at the University of Akron.
Porter is not surprised that Trapp has continued to impress in his young career since leaving Akron. “He’s got a bright future. Obviously I had him on my radar, recruitment wise, for a long time, being at Akron, and being that he was an Ohio guy. I knew he would do well at the professional level.”
“He’s a very technical player. He’s a player that tactically gets it,” said Porter of his former midfielder postgame. “He’s a smart player. Technically and tactically he’s one of the most talented players I’ve ever been with.
Trapp demonstrated his tactical awareness and that despite his age, the Gahanna product is able to perform on the big stage. In two seasons at Akron, Trapp started all 55 matches, tallying one goal and eight assists from his deep-lying midfield role. Perhaps his greatest attribute, however, is his ability to control the midfield. His strength and positioning on and off the ball allows for his teammates in the midfield more freedom to operate.
In his two seasons at Akron, midfielders scored almost half of the team’s goals as the Zips found 40 of a total 94 goals (42.6%) from midfielder contributions. So it should come as no surprise to Crew fans that in Trapp’s first MLS start, a midfielder scored as winger Bernardo Anor netted his second tally in as many contests.
Trapp’s return to Columbus comes on the heels of U-20 World Cup experience in Turkey, where he started all three matches and captained the United States in the clash against France. While on international duty, Trapp has made a strong impression on U.S. Soccer, as he is the only U-20 men’s player to make an appearance in every match in 2013.
Time will tell how Trapp is utilized in Warzycha’s lineup, but Sunday was a strong demonstration as his debut in front of the Black & Gold fans earned the rookie “Barbasol Man of the Match” honors.