The U.S. Men’s National Team entered its annual January Camp this year with an unusually green roster. At the camp’s start, 50 percent of the players had not yet earned their first cap and 21 of 30 players came in at 24 or younger. The roster’s composition didn’t facilitate an easy choice of captain, but at the end of the month, Wil Trapp donned the star-spangled armband to lead the USA against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“My personality is very much trying to knit the team together the best I can,” Trapp said. “What an honor to be captain; that was unexpected. It was a wonderful experience. It would have been great to win the game, but thankfully I’ve been granted another opportunity to be here in camp and hopefully continue to push forward.”
Trapp’s mindset lends itself to leadership. He assumed the captaincy for the U-20 MNT through its 2013 World Cup campaign, and 2018 sees him enter his second full season as captain for his hometown Columbus Crew. March marks his first consecutive MNT call-ups, and he has tried to help to bring another fresh-faced USA roster together in North Carolina.
“Everyone needs confidence,” Trapp said. “The more you can supply your teammates with confidence and a collective mentality, hopefully it translates to a result on the field.”
Trapp’s 2018 appearances with the MNT come on the heels of a strong 2017 campaign in Ohio. The Crew caught fire in the postseason as the team made an impressive run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Trapp played a key role as Columbus eliminated much-hyped expansion side Atlanta United FC in a shootout thriller and carried that momentum to an upset victory against No. 2-seed New York City FC.
“It was a culmination of our team finally playing the way that we expected us to play,” Trapp said. “For me, being a local, having the experience to now be the captain of the team and really growing in maturity on the field and off the field has been a big stepping stone. I think it’s allowed me to develop more consistency through performances and just a more balanced mentality of how I approach the game.”
A strong showing against Bosnia and Herzegovina combined with an undefeated M.L.S. start sent Trapp to Cary. The camp marks his first non-January MNT invite after annual calls to start the year in Carson from 2015 onwards. An in-season call-up during an international window presents a different, more focused dynamic and allows him to enter camp already match-fit.
Even at 25, Trapp is older than all but five players on the roster. He walked away from January impressed with the MNT’s next wave of prospects. That impression has intensified this month. The young, hungry players in camp have ratcheted up the energy in training sessions ahead Tuesday’s match against Paraguay.
“There is a fearlessness in that youth movement,” Trapp said. “It’s been really exciting to see. Dave Sarachan has selected young players who are vying for spots and want to show something. That makes it fun. That makes trainings exciting, that makes games mean something even when they’re friendly games.”