In a year when things don’t seem to be going Columbus Crew SC’s way, having a 2016 MLS All Star seemed like a long shot. Maybe Ola Kamara, who has nine goals in 13 games played, but even the first-year MLS forward admitted he hasn’t been around the league long enough to get a trip to San Jose.
On Sunday, when the All Star roster was completed, many were surprised to see Crew SC midfielder Wil Trapp’s name announced including Trapp himself.
"Absolutely," the 23-year old said when asked if it was a bit of a shock. "I think when you’re in the midst of a slower season like we’ve had, you’re really not focusing on the individual. You’re trying to really think about how we can get this ship righted."
After hosting the MLS Cup Final a year ago, the Black & Gold have struggled this season. The team sits in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and one point above the bottom of the MLS standings, not where Trapp believes the team should be.
"So any of these opportunities that come your way are great, but at the same time I’m more focused on this project we have going on here," he said.
Trapp was part of the Chipotle Homegrown team that competed against Club América U-20s in 2014, but now he gets to play with the big boys. While most of Trapp’s attention is targeted on turning things around for Columbus, he did admit to looking forward to being an All Star for the first time on July 28.
"It’s exciting," Trapp said. "It will be a great opportunity to represent the club and to play against obviously a quality opponent. It’s something that you work for as a player. Ever since you’re a kid, you go to All Star Games and you want to be there. It’s an honored to be called up."
This year’s opponent is English Premier League side Arsenal, who finished second in the 2015-16 season standings. The Gunners boast German star Mesut Ozil, French forward Olivier Giroud and Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez, among others.
"It’s going to be a great event," Trapp said of playing Arsenal. "You can’t overshadow their quality and just a great opportunity to step on the field."
Not only does Trapp get to face off against the skill of the Gunners, but he will get to play with some of MLS’ best. In the midfield alone, Trapp could line up with World Cup star Kaka, Mexican national team player Giovani dos Santos, Italian superstar Andrea Pirlo, as well as other MLS stars.
"Getting to know them on a little bit more of a personal level, it’s going to be a cool week with a lot of things going on," Trapp said of playing with the players he’s usually going against. "So you get to see guys in a different environment."
It will be Trapp’s first trip to the MLS All Star Game, but he’s not worried about what to expect. Both Ethan Finlay and Waylon Francis were at last year’s event and Crew SC captain Michael Parkhurst was an All Star two seasons ago.
Although Trapp was surprised by the selection, his head coach believes the choice is justified. Gregg Berhalter is happy to see Trapp be named an All Star as he continues to watch the young midfielder develop into a star.
"Wil’s a guy that has worked extremely hard over the years that I’ve been here and has put himself in position for awards like that and I think that’s what’s nice," Berhalter said. "I think he’s got a lot of respect from coaches and players around the league and he’s developing nicely. We still see him with a margin for improvement, which is good also. So that says a lot that he’s an All Star and we still think he can get better."