Crew Technical Director and United States U-20 Men's National Team assistant coach Brian Bliss and Crew Soccer Academy product Wil Trapp left Columbus on Monday for the 2012 Milk Cup in Northern Ireland. The U-20s will train at Liverpool FC's facilities this week before their opening match on Saturday against defending champions Denmark. After finishing in third place last year, Trapp feels the U-20s are poised to make a run at the title in 2012.
"I'm pretty excited," the Akron midfielder said last week. "We've got a good group going. I think with the team we have, we can make a good run at the final."
"The level of competition is good," Bliss added. "It's still, from those countries and the U.S. as well, the preparatory phase leading up to the next cycle for the (FIFA U-20 World Cup) qualifying period. So it's a good opportunity for us to get into Europe and play some quality European teams to measure ourselves and see where we're at. We're looking forward to it. We've been invited to that tournament for a number of years and we've done well in the past there. I think we have the same expectations this time around."
Trapp has split his time between this summer between the U-20 National Team, training with the Crew, and playing with Bliss and the Crew Juniors Super-20s.
"I've been playing a lot of high quality games, training with the Crew as well has been helping me a lot," Trapp said of his progression in 2012. "Just working on speed of play, it's gotten a lot faster. My range of passing as well. I think playing with the National Team, as well as training (with the Crew), has really pushed me to the next level a little bit more."
"(Trapp) brings the same stuff to the table every time," Bliss complimented the Gahanna native. "He brings a good attitude, professionalism, he knows his role, and he's a leader when he's on the field. Organizing, he's generally in possession of the ball, and guys look to him for that stuff whether it's with (the Crew) or the U-20s."
The U-20 National Team will compete against Chile, Denmark, Mexico, Turkey, and host Northern Ireland at the Milk Cup.