Every international break fans of clubs hold their collective breath while watching their favorite players on international call-ups. The sentiment is always the same: Don't get hurt, and come back to the club in the same form as when they left. But rather than dread, fans of Columbus Crew SC have embraced the excitement of international soccer and wonder how it will translate to club level. Here is a list of the players on the Crew SC who have made significant international appearances.
Wil Trapp (USA): 1 app, 31 minutes, 0 goals, 0 assists
Wil it translate to the Crew SC: It is difficult to say off of only about 30 minutes of play, but the answer is no. Trapp can bring a calm and stabilizing force to the U.S. Men's National Team midfield but it remains to be seen if Jurgen Klinsmann will let him. Trapp looked uncomfortable at times though this is likely a result of nerves rather than coaching. When Trapp plays in a Crew SC jersey, he has proven to be at home playing as the metronome of the team. Don’t expect to see any of the indecision or jitters seen in his first U.S. game.
Bold Prediction: Trapp's skill set of hold up play and precision passing is desperately needed for the U.S. team. It depends on where Klinsmann sees him fitting in the in flux national team system. Trapp frequently patrolled near the touchline last Wednesday rather his preferred central spot. He should be able to find his equilibrium in any circumstance, however, and become a starter by 2016.
Romain Gall (USA U-20): 9 app, 7 starts, 4 goals (stats for 2014, 4 goals so far in 2015)
Will it translate to the Crew SC: BREAKING NEWS: Gall is good. Crew SC acquired him in the under publicized "sorry Mix is a jerk. Here is a player from France with a cool haircut" draft. Gall spent much of his time on the wings with the U-20 national team, which is where he is likely to be deployed for Crew SC this season. The level of competition must be taken into account, but Gall has demonstrated an ability get behind a defense and wreak havoc. Gall had a first half hat trick against Aruba which shows not only an ability to finish, but also an internal drive to play hard. The game was in hand and he could have "packed it in" but didn't. This killer instinct as well as first class speed and finishing ability should only get better as he matures. The 20-year old has shown he currently has the ability of an above average player in the MLS, and he has given flashes of superstar ability in the right system.
Bold prediction: Gall will be a key player for the U.S. U-20 team's deep run in the U-20 World Cup. He'll add a little field vision to go with his speed. Gall will then make the Olympic roster for 2016. Joining the main squad for the 2018 World Cup will be within reach.
Justin Meram (Iraq): 11 app, 0 goals, 0 assists (stats for 2014 and 2015)
Will it translate to the Crew SC: Meram has struggled in his first extended stint with the Iraq national team. Should Crew SC fans be concerned that this will translate to struggles in the upcoming season? In short, no. Meram has one elite move: his right footed curling shot known affectionately as the "meat hook". For the meat hook to work effectively Merem needs service as the top of the 18-yard box with space and time to set up. This kind of service takes time to develop with new teammates. Meram had limited playing time and doesn't even speak the same language as many Iraqi National Team members. Justin Meram will have another year under his belt with a largely unchanged Crew SC attack that should give him plenty of chances to show fans why he wears the number nine.
Bold prediction: Meram will develop into a key member of the Iraq National Team that qualifies for the 2018 World Cup.
Kristinn Steindorsson (Iceland): 1 app, 46 minutes, 1 goal, 0 assists
Will it translate to the Crew SC: Yes. Steindorsson is listed as a forward for Iceland, but spent most of his time on the left wing, which is likely where he will play for Crew SC. Competition is stiff for this spot, as Gall, Merem, Cedrick, and Ben Speas are all fighting for playing time as well. The Icelander should be able to clock a significant amount of time on the field however based on this performance in his only national team game. He can fly and has shown a knack for being in the right place at the right time in the 18 yard box. His goal was a perfectly placed header, which is an ability Crew SC desperately lacked in 2014. Competing on the senior international level against better players will lead to improvement while with Crew SC
Bold Prediction: He will become part of the core Iceland squad that joins the expanded field for the European Championship in 2016. Depending on the draw, Iceland could ride Steindorsson to a surprising run.
Cedrick (DC Congo): 4 app, 243 minutes, 0 goals ,1 assist
Will it translate to the Crew SC: Unknown. There is too little information available to make an educated guess on how Cedrick's form will translate on the club level. Based on whoscored.com data, Cedrick likes to dribble, but is "very weak" at holding onto the ball. He also likes short passes, but struggles to pass effectively. Whoscored.com claims he likes to do layoffs, which just makes him sound like a disgruntled manager. This data is based off of 243 minutes of play, as the African Cup of Nations is not being covered in detail, so it is likely to be incomplete. Head coach Gregg Berhalter has earned the benefit of the doubt with signings like this, as many relatively unknown players had break out seasons in year one under him. it is reasonable for Cedrick to make an impact with Crew SC when he finally joins up in June.
Bold prediction: Playing under Berhalter and with Wolff's tutelage, Cedrick will develop his finishing touch and elevate his game to where he is the best player attacking player on DC Congo squad.
Bonus! Steve Clark:
When will he be called up to USMNT: Unfortunately, it's difficult to see it happening. The United States does one thing well in soccer: churn out elite goalkeepers. From Brad Friedel (retired), Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, and even Nick Rimando, the guys currently starting games for the U.S. Men's National Team are all better than Clark and all have plenty of tread left on the tires. It can be argued Clark is better than Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid, but they are both several years younger and already in the U.S. camp. By nature of the position only, one shot stopper is needed per game, which will make it nearly impossible for Clark to climb past his position of sixth best U.S.-born goal keeper into a U.S. appearance.
How can Clark break through? Clark routinely makes reaction saves at an elite level. The rest of his game, however, can use improvement. He lacks consistency because he can be caught out of position, though this improved greatly as the 2014 season went on. Playing in the Berhalter system, he has one mode of distribution, rolling the ball to his center backs even if they are under pressure. This may sound nit-picky, but when discussing how to become the nation's top shot stopper, nit-picking is necessary. In 2018 Tim Howard and Nick Rimando will likely retire from U.S. action and this moves Clark up to fourth in the pecking order. He will be 31-years old at the time, which is still young for a goalkeeper. If Clark can hone his distribution and positioning in the next three years he may be called into U.S. camp after the 2018 World Cup.