Columbus Crew SC are doing things a little different this year when it comes to leadership.
During the first three seasons under head coach Gregg Berhalter, the Black & Gold adopted the traditional approach of having a captain, Michael Parkhurst, and vice captain, Wil Trapp. With Parkhurst gone, Crew SC were looking for a new captain.
That position will be held by Trapp Berhalter announced at Thursday’s media day, but he will not be alone in his leadership position.
Instead of one vice captain, five Columbus players, Federico Higuain, Ethan Finlay, Justin Meram, Jonathan Mensah and Josh Williams, join Trapp on a “leadership council.”
“We think that this will be an effective way for the group to be empowered and to take control and we want them leading the way,” Berhalter explained. “We’re here to guide them, but we want to give a lot of ownership to the players.”
While Trapp was appointed captain by the coaching staff, the other five were elected to the council by their teammates. The hope is this council allows any member of the team to be able to talk to a designated leader they relate to, providing more than just one or two options when needed.
“Each of the guys that are on there were nominated by the team, but it doesn’t mean they all had 28 guys that voted for us,” Finlay said. “So certain guys obviously resonate with other guys within the locker room. Justin for example might be able to get to three guys that I maybe don’t get to. So that’s the idea of it.”
As for the roles of this council, Berhalter sees these six setting the tone for the team in three ways. First, on the field where all of these players understand the playing style and embrace its importance. They will help make sure this system is executed properly, bringing new guys along and ensuring a game plan is followed.
Second is the culture of this team. Berhalter has stressed having a strong locker room and having players connected in the club’s beliefs. These players are an embodiment of that in all they do.
Finally, he sees these six players as the voice of the team. If there are issues among the players or something needs to be worked out with the staff, these are the guys designated to handle situations or bring them to the coaching staff’s attention.
“It’s a fundamental basis with which we can move forward, tackle problems that might arise and will arise throughout a season and not be on one person’s shoulders to always have to be driving the group,” Trapp explained. “It’s important I think in a team standpoint to have multiple people driving and being strong and being people we can look to on the field for confidence.”
As for taking on the captain role, Trapp called it both humbling and an honor.
Having grown up just outside of Columbus and a fan of Crew SC since he was young, to take on an even bigger leadership position than he held the previous three years clearly means a lot to him. But as always, he is team first.
“This team, it doesn’t take just one guy,” he said. “It’s going to take all 30 players on our roster; it’s going to take all 11 guys on the field. So for me, it’s not stepping too far out of who I am as a player and as a person because that’s what’s gotten me where I am now.”
Trapp, this new leadership council and the rest of Crew SC take to the field on Saturday as the Chicago Fire comes to town to open the Major League Soccer 2017 regular season at MAPFRE Stadium.