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Wil Trapp Taking Over as Crew Captain

With Michael Parkhurst called in to the 30-man U.S. camp ahead of this summer's World Cup, vice-captain Wil Trapp will have to take on a bigger leadership role.

Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Wil Trapp has played soccer for a long time but from a professional standpoint, he is quite young.

In his second year with the Columbus Crew, the 21-year old has experienced a lot, but when he steps on the field Saturday night, it will be his first game as captain of the Black and Gold.

"It's exciting," he said this week.

"Any time you get to put on the armband for your team and be the captain it's a great honor."

Before the season began, head coach Gregg Berhalter named U.S. international Michael Parkhurst the team's captain to the surprise of few. What did raise some eyebrows was the appointment of Trapp as vice-captain.

With Parkhurst away on international duty for at least the next two weeks, Trapp is the next man up.

"It's never fun to have a guy like Michael out of the lineup," the midfielder said. "He's a huge contributor for us and a great leader for us, but with that we have to adjust and you're going to see other players step up, hopefully myself as well. It's a great honor and it's exciting."

With or without the armband, Trapp is a leader on the field. This year, the Black and Gold's number 20 has taken on a much more vocal role and is clearly more comfortable in year two.

As teammate Josh Williams points out, Trapp is not your average 21-year old and he's confident in his new captain.

"I'm sure you guys know, he's not the normal 21-year old," the defender told reporters when asked about Trapp taking over.

"He's had some very difficult challenges and some big opportunities a lot of guys his age have never even dreamed of. For the normal 21-year old, I'd be a little worried but for Wil, it's give him the armband and let him do his thing out there. I'm not too worried and I'm sure he accepts the challenge and I'm sure he wants it."

In his short career, Trapp has accomplished a fair amount. He has appeared in 25 games for the Crew, starting all of them, and averages just under 88 minutes per game.

His debut as Columbus captain will come against his college coach Caleb Porter - now the man in charge of the Portland Timbers - who he was introduced against on the professional level last year.

"It's always cool to play against him," Trapp said. "Last year, my first game was against him. Once you get on the field you don't really think about it. We can exchange all the pleasantries after the game."

The former Akron boss was the MLS Coach of the Year in 2013, but his team has only managed one win this campaign. Despite the slow start to 2014, Trapp is under no allusion that this will be an easy game for his team.

"Caleb's teams always like to keep the ball," the captain said.

"They like to possess and they're going to wear you down with their movement and pressure right after they lose they ball so we just have to be clean and quick in our transition and sharp in our build up."

In their trip to Portland, the Crew looks for the first win since March 29 - a stretch of seven games. Without Parkhurst or left back Waylon Francis available, Berhalter will be forced into reshuffling his lineup.

The head coach expects Trapp to step up as the new captain, but will look for leadership from some of his veterans as well.

"I expect some older guys to step up," Berhalter said. "[Tyson Wahl] if he plays is going to be a guy that should step up. Hopefully we'll get some leadership out of other guys."

Aside from Wahl, Williams, Federico Higuain, and Steve Clark are veteran players that will help Trapp lead his team in the pursuit of three points and moving forward while Parkhurst is away.

Both teams will be desperate for wins on Saturday night and leadership may play a key role in the final outcome.

If the 21-year old Trapp can one again rise about his years, he could help pull the Black and Gold out of their slump and turn things around while their captain is away.