Soccer players on the field

The more things change, the more things stay the same for Wil Trapp.
  For some, playing for a championship is a once in a lifetime experience. For Trapp, a midfielder for the Columbus Crew SC, playing in the MLS Cup championship on Dec. 6 was more like a case of déjà vu.
  Six years ago, Trapp led his school, Gahanna Lincoln High School, to a Division I state title and a national title. Trapp scored the game-clinching goal as Gahanna defeated Cleveland St. Ignatius 1-0 (4-3 shootout) for the title in what is now Mapfre Stadium.
  Trapp headed into the MLS Cup showdown with the Portland Timbers on Dec. 6 hoping to recapture the same kind of magical feeling.
  “It’s exciting,” Trapp said. “It has been a long season but we kind of are firing on all cylinders at the right time of the year. Our guys are confident, guys are excited. The club is excited. The city is excited.”
  After struggling through the dog days of August, the Crew SC caught fire in mid-October and won five out of its last seven games going into the title game with Portland. The Crew SC lost 2-1 at Montreal Impact in the first game of the playoffs but defeated the visiting Impact 3-1 to win the two-game series 4-3 in aggregate goals and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. Columbus defeated The New York Red Bulls 2-1 in aggregate goals after blanking the Red Bulls 2-0 on Nov. 22 and losing 1-0 on Nov. 29.
  The trip marks the second time the Crew SC has made it to the Cup finale, defeating the Red Bulls 3-1 in the 2008 in Carson, Calif. Tripp, who was 15 at the time, remembers what that team meant to the city.
  “The buzz and the excitement (this year) is really similar to what it was in 2008,” said Trapp, who joins defender Chad Barson (Olentangy), goalkeeper Matt Lampson (Hilliard/St. Charles), and midfielder Ben Swanson (Grove City) as the only players on the Crew SC roster who grew up in Columbus. “The style of play (between the two teams) is different. The philosophies are different. But in terms of the pride factor and the intensity, I think it’s very similar.
  “(Being from Columbus), you have a little more pride in the city and in a club you’ve watched your whole life.”
  Trapp believes growing up in Gahanna helped shape him into the player he is. The Lions were 41-1-2 overall during the midfielder’s two-year stint with the team, with the one loss being a 2-1 overtime loss to Olentangy Orange in a 2010 regional final.
  Trapp was named the 2010 NSCAA National High School Player of the Year and was ranked fifth in that year’s recruiting class by Top Drawer Soccer and College Soccer News. He was also the 2009 Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year.
  Outside of training, he spent a lot of the Thanksgiving holiday reconnected with players who were on that 2009 squad.
  “Being a part of a state championship team that won the title at Mapfre Stadium (was special),” Trapp said. “To win a professional title in the same venue would be amazing.”
  Coach Dwayne Marshall, who coached Trapp at Gahanna, remembered the sandy brown haired midfielder as the guy who always said the right thing at the right time.
  “Everyone needs a motivator on the field especially in soccer since you can’t call a time out,” Marshall said. “He knew how to pick up players. He was like having an extra coach on the field.
  “(When he made his game-winning penalty kick in the 2009 state final) I asked him if he felt any pressure. He just said ‘No I’m used to doing that.’ I’m really excited for him.”
  Trapp is just excited to be on the pitch this season after a rocky start to the 2015 campaign. He sustained a concussion during a training session in mid-March and for nearly three months, he dealt with blurred vision and a lethargic hangover feeling.
  Trapp played briefly in a 2-all tie with the Vancouver White Caps on April 8 and didn’t return to the field until playing a two-minute stint in a 2-1 win over the Red Bulls on July 4.
  “You just feel like you’re not right,” Trapp said. “ The hardest part was the unknown of a concussion. You don’t see your improvement every day. You were just waiting for the symptoms to go away.
  “It was long and frustrating at times. You have to right the ship and get your thoughts aligned with ‘I’ll be fine. I just have to commit to my rehab every day.’”
  As the Crew SC prepared to meet the Portland Timbers in the MLS Cup final, Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter said he’s happy to have Trapp on the line.
  “There’s no secret how important he is to our team,” Berhalter said. “He’s a very smart player and he’s very aware of what is happening on the field. He has a big leadership role on this team. His performance is a big reason we are where we are today.”


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