Columbus Crew SC midfielder and Gahanna, Ohio, native Wil Trapp is defined by his many roles while playing for his hometown team — Major League Soccer's first Club and the state's only MLS franchise. Despite the plethora of positions the 24-year-old fills for the Black & Gold, it's his unaltered determination and perpetually steady personality that allows him to shine in every persona.
It's those attributes that has Trapp positioned to make his centennial appearance in Major League Soccer on Saturday against Toronto FC at MAPFRE Stadium. If he plays, he will hit 100 regular-season caps for Crew SC — a rapidly rising trajectory that he began as a high school state champion in a suburb of Columbus, continued as the Club's fourth Homegrown signing and became a 19-year-old professional, and continues game-by-game with Crew SC. There are no signs of slowing for the first-year team captain.
"In this short amount of time and at this age, it’s a guy with talent, and a guy that is going to go on to get a couple hundred more throughout his career," Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said of Trapp. "It certainly shows that he’s played a lot at a young age and he deserves that. It’s the way he’s been developing, he’s continually improving and he’s not satisfied. He always wants to get better and work on his game."
Trapp — a Homegrown Player, newlywed, Akron Zip, MLS's current leading passer, U.S. Men's National Team-er and Captain of Crew SC — is described as one thing, no matter which teammate is asked: steady.
“What’s changed in Wil from high school to now?" Gahanna Lincoln High School teammate, former next-door neighbor and fellow Crew SC Homegrown player Alex Crognale said. "Nothing. Honestly, nothing. He’s been a mature, hard-working guy since the start, and I think that’s he’s in this position: 100 caps at age 24. That is no small feat, and its huge for him. Of course I’m happy for him, but its not a surprise — he’s always been the first one in and last one out. That’s just Wil.”
Like Crognale says, it shouldn't be a surprise that Trapp has achieved what he has with Crew SC — playoff appearances in two of his five years with Crew SC, the 2015 Eastern Conference championship, being named a 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star (Crew SC's first-ever Homegrown All-Star). He's won and achieved success at every level.
In just two years at the University of Akron — under current-Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter — Trapp was a two-time All-MAC First Team honoree, MAC Newcomer of the Year and ranked the top freshman in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer.com. Before his collegiate success, he was named the 2010 NSCAA National High School Player of the Year, ranked as the No. 5 recruit in the country by both Top Drawer Soccer and College Soccer News and was a Top Drawer Soccer five-star recruit. He grew up serving as Crew SC Soccer Academy team captain at the Under-16 and Under-18 level and was two-time Columbus Crew SC Academy player of the year (2009, 2010). He earned Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year (2009) honors and compiled a 41-1-2 record over a two-year high school career at Gahanna Lincoln High School en route to the Golden Lions' first state championship in 2009 with the game-winning penalty kick in the shootout.
“You knew there was something about Wil when he first came in as a teenager," Crew SC defender Josh Williams said. Williams was teammates with a then-19 and -20-year-old Trapp in 2013-14 before re-signing with Crew SC before the 2017 season. "He was special. He was never overwhelmed at all — that’s not normal for most Academy kids that come into any First Team. He stepped right in, was comfortable and his character was so rare — both on the field and off it. He never stops being a pro.
"To see him approaching 100 caps, it's no surprise. It was an expectation.”
Now through six matches in the 2017 MLS regular season — his first season as Captain after two seasons as Vice-Captain — Trapp leads the League in attempted passes (470), successful passes (431) and successful passes in the opponent’s half (200) with an overall passing accuracy of 91.7 percent (among players attempting 200 or more passes). In his prototypical No. 6 role, he defends the Black & Gold backline with timely tackles and sniper-specific services — he's tied for the team lead with 10 tackles won in 2017.
"As we started working with Wil, you knew right away that this was a guy that thought about the game differently," Berhalter said. "He was very mature for his age, but also constantly studied the game and constantly applied what he learned in training to the games. He can control the tempo of the game. He starts the buildups from behind. He’s very good at dictating defensive transition as well and I think overall, a commander of that backline area. It’s the ability to control and then knowing when to push the tempo, when to make it a little faster, when to push passes through the lines, when to keep the ball. It’s a very difficult position to play. I don’t think people give it enough credit, but it’s certainly a position that you need to be fully aware of what you’re doing at all times."
To the hometown kid — who just signed a multi-year extension to stay with Crew SC for the foreseeable future — Saturday's potential is a nice milestone, but it's just the start. The journey has just begun.
“Since I’ve signed, it's amazing how quickly it's gone," Trapp said. "It’s been five years. As a player, you don’t know these milestones are happening, but I’ve been fortunate to have a great group around me this year and in years prior. It’s been fun, but there are still many, many more games to come.”
As Crew SC aims to continue its unbeaten start at MAPFRE Stadium against Toronto FC on Saturday, one thing is certain to stay the same: the Club's unwavering Captain.
"He’s the same great person no matter the situation," Crew SC goalkeeper and four-year teammate Brad Stuver said. "In the locker room he’s singing and dancing and making people laugh; on the field, his intensity is unmatched — he makes everyone around him better. It was like that when he was a rookie, and its like that now when he leads our team as Captain."
Trapp and the Black & Gold return home for the first leg of the Trillium Cup against Toronto FC on April 15 for an 8 p.m. kickoff at MAPFRE Stadium. The match is the first Trillium Cup meeting of the year in the regular-season series that determines the victor of the trophy. The two teams will play on May 10 at MAPFRE Stadium before a May 26 clash at BMO Field. The Black & Gold have won the Trillium Cup six out of the nine years it has been contested. The two clubs began battling for the trophy during the 2008 campaign and the Black & Gold were victorious in the regular-season series for the first three years of Trillium Cup action.