Without a doubt, Wil Trapp would have been a First Round pick in next month's MLS SuperDraft.
Instead, Technical Director Brian Bliss made it a priority to keep the two-time Crew Soccer Academy Player of the Year and Gahanna native in Black & Gold by signing him to a Homegrown contract on Thursday. Bliss turned down several offers from other clubs to acquire Trapp's Homegrown rights.
"Wil is a well-known commodity around college soccer and MLS," Bliss explained Thursday. "There were certainly some teams that made some overtures for his services in terms of a trade. However, it didn't make sense for our club. [Trapp] is one of our top players to come through the system and he's not something we were willing to give away at any price."
Trapp becomes the fourth CSA product to sign a First Team contract with the Crew, following in the footsteps of Matt Lampson, Ben Speas and Aaron Horton. From the moment he put on Black & Gold, Crew Juniors Executive Director Andrew Arthurs knew Trapp was special.
"We saw this coming five years ago, in the fall of 2007 when Wil first joined the program," Arthurs said. "He was certainly on this path. It's great to see how hard he's worked and everything he's accomplished."
Folowing an OHSAA Division I state title at Gahanna Lincoln High School in 2009 and being named 2010 NSCAA National High School Player of the Year, Trapp moved north to the University of Akron where he started all 45 matches in his freshman and sophomore years for the Zips. Trapp's coach at Akron and new Portland Timbers Head Coach Caleb Porter apparently made a tempting proposition to the Crew for the midfielder's talents.
"[Portland] was aggressive to relatively more than aggressive to obtain his services," Bliss revealed. "It only makes sense. [Porter] has familiarity with him, but [Trapp] has just as much history with the Crew than he does at Akron. At the end of the day, it doesn't make sense for the club or the player for what we're trying to accomplish here. We respect the fact that they made an offer and some other teams did as well, but it wasn't something we were willing to do."
Trapp becomes the first new player for the Black & Gold ahead of 2013, and will battle for the defensive midfield role in Robert Warzycha's starting lineup. While young players sometimes have trouble breaking into MLS, Bliss feels Trapp's attitude and mentality will set him apart.
"It's always difficult for players to come in and make an impact right away. Some of the young players that have done that in the past have gone to teams that have been a little bit lower in the standings and had more holes to fill," Bliss said.
"There's no doubt we've got some holes to fill too, but Wil is a good player and he will find his way in our roster without us going overboard and guaranteeing him minutes. He's a quality player and a quality person. He's also a fighter, which will benefit him well in playing with us."
In terms of his playing style, Bliss compares Trapp to another former defensive midfielder at Akron.
"[Trapp] has a good sense of a game in terms of intercepting balls in front of the back four and cutting out the passing lanes. I wouldn't say he's overly physical like a guy that played before him at Akron in [D.C. United midfielder] Perry Kitchen. He does it a little bit differently, but on the offensive end of the game, he's got a better skill set than other guys that have come through Akron and the programs that have come into the League. He's a good distributor of the ball. He's very possession-oriented and he reads the game well."
Trapp will join the U.S. U-20 National Team camp next week in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. before joining the Crew First Team in mid-January for preseason training camp.