With Columbus Crew SC mired in a slump that has seen them win one game since the beginning of May, it's been hard to get excited about the team. But some of that early season enthusiasm around the team is returning with the news that midfielder Wil Trapp is almost ready to resume training.
After being a mainstay since the middle of 2013, Trapp has only played in three games and has 225 minutes in 2015. His recovery from the concussion he sustained in March has been a long road back. Trapp's concussion symptoms lingered and the team has repeatedly that they didn't put a timetable on his recovery and return to ensure he returned fully healthy.
Trapp has repeatedly declined interview requests until he's fully healthy, but head coach Gregg Berhalter has commented on Trapp's impending return.
"Last week was a big week for him, is he in a different phase now: He's moving forward and he's making progress."
"He's doing well." Berhalter added "He's doing more and more in training and we should have him almost in full team training."
But what does that mean for a struggling Crew SC team? Looking into the numbers, Trapp's impact has been substantial. Comparing Trapp's fine 2014 to Mohammed Saied's performance in 2015 underscore what the Crew SC homegrown player is able to do.
Trapp was the team's defensive midfielder last year and Saied has been asked to fill that role in his absence. Neither player is asked to get forward or carry a large offensive load. Their numbers are similar in the goals, shots, and assist rankings. A different picture emerges when looking at the passing and defensive numbers for both players.
Trapp stands out in almost every measure. Looking at the passing stats, Saied and Trapp both complete a high percentage of passes. Saied leads 89 to 87 percent, but the differences are in the type of passes. Trapp passes more frequently and attempts and completes significantly more long passes. No. 20 completes nearly four more long balls (passes over 25 yards) than his No. 8 teammate and with a higher completion percentage.
Trapp is the fulcrum that allows the Crew SC offense to switch fields and attack at speed. Saied plays more of a ball circulation role on the offense. Having that ability to open up the game with a quick switch is another wrinkle a suddenly one dimensional offense needs.
On the other side of the ball, Trapp also stands out. The defensive midfielder in Berhalter's system shoulders a heavy load. Saied has tried to fill in, but he's more comfortable further up the field. Trapp is at home screening a defense and it shows in the numbers.
Trapp harries players more. He averaged nearly four tackle attempts a game last year, while Saied has an average of 2.7. Trapp also leads in successful tackles. He's getting to players on the ball quicker and bothering opponents more. That's also indicative of his interception rate. Trapp gets on the ball and clogs passing lanes well, more efficiently than Saeid.
The story is the same in all of the defensive usage categories. Trapp is a cleaner defender who makes more vital interventions, stops more shots, and generally helps the defense more. Coupled with his outstanding passing, Trapp's return is a positive for a team that's struggling.
He may not fix all that's wrong with the team, but a healthy Wil Trapp will certainly help.