FourFourTwo has released its annual ranking of the top 50 US national team players this week, with Columbus Crew SC well represented in the list. Check out where goalkeeper Zack Steffen and club Captain and midfielder Wil Trapp landed.
No. 42 | Zack Steffen
The most exciting player of the 2017 MLS postseason was the goalkeeper on the most interesting team in the league. Columbus Crew SC got hot on the field at just the right time, and just as team owner Anthony Precourt’s public declaration of interest in relocating the Crew to Austin, Texas.
The face of Columbus’ playoff run was Zack Steffen, who played hero on numerous occasions, including one of the most entertaining scoreless draws in recent memory: the knockout-round game in Atlanta, which Columbus won in a penalty-kick shootout. Steffen saved two spot-kicks, in addition to his eight saves from open play.
Steffen’s performance over those five games came under the national spotlight, and his 16-12-6 record in the regular season was a necessary complement to the Crew’s potent attack. At 22, Steffen has a bright future in front of him, with U.S. youth-level experience and time in Germany already behind him.
His heroics, combined with the U.S. men’s national team’s recent woes, leave us wondering how Steffen can factor into the next World Cup cycle. If 2017 is any indication of his base level, he should have a say in a wide-open battle for the No. 1 spot.
- Jeff Kassouf
No. 27 | Wil Trapp
There’s no question that 2017 was an unforgettable season for the Columbus Crew, for reasons good and bad. It was surely a season to remember personally for midfielder Wil Trapp – mostly for good.
Obviously, the Columbus captain would have loved to push one round deeper into the MLS playoffs; Gregg Berhalter’s team was squeezed out in the conference finals on the slimmest of margins by the eventual champion, Toronto FC. But take nothing away from what Trapp and his teammates accomplished, never mind the tenuous and surely distracting situation around the original MLS club’s potential relocation.
Trapp, although just 24, was handed the captain’s armband this year following Michael Parkhurst’s departure to Atlanta. His performance over the season and during the Crew playoff run more than justified Berhalter’s choice.
“It was a huge learning year for me,” Trapp told the Massive Report blog. “I think from the beginning of the year to the end, I made great strides with just how I felt addressing the team, how I felt assuming this role as the captain of the team. And that’s also something I’m encouraged and excited about for next year.”
Trapp, ever calm and assured in his deep-lying distribution, didn’t crack the national team in 2017. But given the growth of his game and the presumed national team turnover ahead, he’s likely to be among the central midfield candidates going forward.
- Steve Davis
As you might expect, the list is littered with MLS players, with 30 making the list and three cracking the top five.
The Major League Soccer regular season will kick off on the road at Toronto FC on March 3, 2018. Following that 2017 Eastern Conference Championship rematch, Crew SC returns to MAPFRE Stadium to host the Montreal Impact on March 10, 2018.
In 2017, Crew SC returned to the postseason for the third time in four years and reached the Eastern Conference Championship for the second time in four seasons under Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter.