On May 18th, Wil Trapp made his second start for Columbus Crew reserves. It was only his fourth action of the season, and he still had yet to see first team action.
Just a month later, Trapp was in Turkey for the U-20 World Cup. He stepped onto the field in Istanbul as captain of a United States team facing the tournament’s “group of death,” and despite an early exit from the competition, the 20-year-old says it was a great experience.
“Going to the World Cup was a dream come true,” he said. “We played some great teams, and I did okay, which was good. It was great exposure.”
When Trapp returned to Columbus, he did not necessarily expect that exposure to carry over to his Columbus Crew coaches. But two hours before the team’s July 7 home game, he got word that he would be making his MLS debut.
“Coming back, I didn’t know exactly what the plan of action would be from the coaching staff,” he said. “But they threw me right into it, which was great.”
An MLS debut is an exciting moment for any player, but for Trapp, this one was personal. Not only would he be seeing his first action as a young player in a starting role in front of home fans, but also his first match would come against his former University of Akron coach Caleb Porter.
Porter coached the Zips during Trapp’s two-year stint in college, where he earned the title of Mid-American Conference (MAC) newcomer of the year and two All-MAC First Team honors. With his debut played in his hometown against his college coach, there was certainly no lack of motivation for Trapp, and after the team’s unlikely 1-0 victory against Porter and the Portland Timbers, he said the win was just a bit more, sweet.
“To win the game is the most important thing, and it’s pretty nice to see [Porter] pissed off after the game,” Trapp chuckled after the match. “To hear him screaming on the sidelines, except not at me this time, was pretty nice.”
Saturday, Trapp saw another 60 minutes of playing time, this time in an exhibition match against traveling English club and recent FA Cup Winners Wigan Athletic. Though the match was a friendly, it provided Trapp with more playing time, and more opportunities to give the coaching staff a look at his skills.
“We know what kind of player he is… so it was a matter of time before he stepped on the field and did the job,” Columbus Head Coach Robert Warzycha said. “I’m just asking him to be himself. Find the passing lanes, move the ball from side to side, and be connected, and that’s what [he’s done] best.”
Trapp seems fairly happy with his first two performances, but is cautiously optimistic about playing consistently from this point on.
“I connected some passes and just tried to do my best in the first game, but you never know exactly what you’re going to get out of it with nerves and stuff,” he said. “I’ve been playing, so hopefully I keep getting in the starting lineup and contributing as much as I can.”
Warzycha did not commit to keeping Trapp as a regular, but suggested that it was more for the player to decide.
“I think that’s up to him. If he’s going to play good and he’s going to help the team win games, obviously he’s going to be in the lineup.”