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Tweaking Columbus Crew SC’s offense to enhance Wil Trapp

If Crew SC want to see Trapp on the rise again, they must allow him to take risks.

Josh, the third member of our staff with that name, is a new addition to the Massive Report family. He is currently a student at the University of Pittsburgh and has experience writing for multiple publications, including The Pitt News. Given his location, Josh will help us cover Crew SC’s affiliate team, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, among other things.

The past couple of years have seen Columbus Crew SC midfielder Wil Trapp garner hype and subsequently lose it. Some fans love his workman-like contributions, while others still see untapped potential.

He is a player that naturally performs the quiet roles (possession play, tracking back on defense, initiating the forward attack, etc.), but there are two facets of his game that seldom shine, and only when head coach Gregg Berhalter allows the team to counterattack—something we’ve seen phased out due to a preference for controlled possession.

What is this, you wonder? Trapp has vision, and one hell of a long ball.

Consider the following:

Let’s say Crew SC wins the ball in their defensive third. The opposing team scrambles to get back on defense. Ethan Finlay is wide on the right wing and has open space ahead. He knows his speed will allow him to outrun almost anyone on the pitch.

When Trapp receives the ball, the attacking move begins. He quickly gets his eyes up and sees Finlay charging forward. The Columbus native takes a chance. One perfectly placed ball arched over the heads of retreating defense is all it takes; a heroic ball that takes guts.

There’s the chance possession is immediately squandered, but Finlay beats the offside trap and streaks onto the weighted ball, picking it up just outside the 18-yard box. He angles in toward the net. It’s just him and the keeper.


It’s a scenario that shouldn’t happen every time the Black & Gold win back possession, but it’s taking full advantage of two key ingredients the team holds: Finlay’s elite speed and Trapp’s prevailing long ball.

This example is an attacking run Crew SC has used in the past, and one fans have witnessed work previously. It’s also a welcome change of pace to the possession play that can become methodical, and will leave opposition defenses unknowing of what to expect.

Although Berhalter prides himself on his system, and ardently sticks to his well-known tactics, there are attacking options still at his disposal. The above scenario is just one option to consider for throwing defenses off the familiar Black & Gold scent from time to time.

This is not to say the system in place doesn’t work, but maybe it’s becoming too predictable at times? For just a few attacking runs dispersed throughout the game, giving Trapp a chance to play that ball both uses his skill set and provides a chance of pace for Columbus.

It’s there. It’s waiting to be unleashed.