With a run of inconsistent results, including just two wins in its last nine matches, most wouldn't imagine the Crew locker room is a very pleasant place to be these days. Instead, the team's veterans are helping keep the mood positive as the Black & Gold prepare for the second match of the 2013 Trillium Cup presented by Scotts on Saturday against Toronto FC (2:00 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio).
"It's been a good week of practice," defender Josh Williams said. "I think some of the older guys, the guys who have been around a long time, have really maintained a positive attitude. We've really tried to stay positive all week and just build people up."
The misfortune of a 6-9-5 record is an unfamiliar feeling to most on the Crew's roster as the team has posted a winning percentage above .500 in each of the past six seasons. With 14 matches left in the season, the Black & Gold has a chance to extend that streak if the ball starts to bounce their way.
"Every time you step on the field, the goal is to win and you've got to keep that in mind," rookie midfielder Wil Trapp explained. "Sometimes, things don't go your way. Good players on the other team make plays sometimes. The locker room is strong right now. We're staying positive. We're a tight-knit group. That's always helpful and that's what you need in a team."
Added Williams: "We played a good game last week, we just had some breakdowns mentally in the final minutes. It could've gone either way. Last year, we were winning those games. This year, we've been on the other side of that.
"The game tests you a lot and we're definitely getting tested this year. It's going to be important for a lot of the leaders to stay positive and maintain the positivity through the team. I think it spreads and this week it's definitely shown."
TRAPP: THE KEY TO THE NEW FORMATION
When it comes to his new formation that debuted in a 1-0 win on July 7 against the Portland Timbers, Robert Warzycha doesn't like to throw numbers around.
"It depends on how we play, whether we're home or away," the Head Coach admitted.
"If we're at home, it's going to look more like a 4-3-3. If we're away, it will look more like a 4-5-1."
Regardless of what Warzycha may call it, the Crew has seen improvement in its play due to the change in formation.
A prominent role in the switch to the formation has been the emergence of Homegrown midfielder Wil Trapp, who also debuted in the victory over Portland. The U.S. U-20 National Team stalwart has made a seamless transition to the pro game, anchoring the Crew as the deep-lying central midfielder in the formation. The Crew's new look is similar to the system Trapp played in at the University of Akron.
"I think [the formation] suits me very well because I can sit in front of the two centerbacks, get the ball off them and kind of dictate the build-up, which is something I do well," the rookie said. "Defensively, I'm just kind of organizing and sitting in front of those guys, telling guys where to go. At Akron it was kind of the same thing. It's definitely something I'm comfortable with and I know how to play."
Trapp's defensive responsibilities have allowed defenders Josh Williams and Chad Barson to be more involved in the attack from the flanks.
"In that formation, it allows the outside backs to get forward a little more because I can slide in and cover or the centerback can slide over," Trapp said. "It's good for them because it allows them to be more dangerous in the attack, getting forward and getting crosses in, knowing they have that cover."
Always an offensive threat from the backline, Williams appreciates Trapp's presence in the lineup.
"With Wil Trapp in there, he allows us to keep possession and knock it from side-to-side," Williams said. "When we have the ball, that allows me to get higher up the field. If we're chasing the ball, I can't get up and down the field making 70-yard runs all the time.
"As long as we have the ball -- and I think the new formation has allowed us to do that -- I think we can continue to attack from the wings."