While Columbus Crew SC is in the midst of a playoff run, two of the team’s leaders have been called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team camp by interim head coach Dave Sarachan for the upcoming European friendlies. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen and team captain and midfield linchpin Wil Trapp will be part of the two games that the United States plays during the international break.
Trapp has earned seven caps in 2018 during a year of transition. He has been a stabilizing force for the national team as they have looked to bring in new players with the objective of identifying the new core that takes the team to the 2022 World Cup. Trapp has been the captain of every game he’s played this year.
Steffen has seized hold of the starting goalkeeping job for the national team this year. He made his debut in January and has now tallied six caps in 2018, including a breakout performance against France in June.
“I think they both have adapted well to international play,” Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter said of his young players. “Wil has taken up a leadership role in the team and I think he brings a calm, he brings a poise to the group. And then Zack has played well when he’s gotten call-ups. I’ve gotten to watch some of the games and he’s performed really well.”
Former Crew SC winger Romain Gall is in line to earn his first cap. Gall was released by Crew SC at the end of the 2015 season and went to Swedish third division side Nykopings BIS for the 2016 season. He earned a move to GIF Sundsvall in the first division in 2017. After nine goals in 37 games over two years, Gall moved again to Swedish giants Malmo FF in the summer. The winger has five goals in 10 games to put himself back in the U.S. National Team picture.
“We’re proud of him,” Berhalter said of Gall. “The most important thing for me, or the thing that is really inspiring, is his path. He had to deal with rejection here in MLS and we didn’t pick up his option. We thought he had potential but he just wasn’t getting enough playing time. And he decided to go and do it the hard way. He started in lower divisions in Sweden and worked his way up and got all these moves based on his performance. And you love to see that happen with young players.”
Steffen and Trapp are part of a group of seven players who are still in the middle of the MLS Cup playoffs though that number will drop by at least two over the weekend as the New York Red Bulls’ Tyler Adams and Aaron Long were also called up. Atlanta United had Brad Guzan and Darlington Nagbe called in while Jorge Villafaña joins from the Portland Timbers.
Given what’s at stake, there’s a possibility that the Black & Gold could ask for Trapp and Steffen to remain with the team despite the break in the playoffs for international games so as to prevent any injuries that could hurt Columbus’ chances of bringing home an MLS Cup.
“I haven’t even gotten that far yet,” Berhalter said when asked about holding his players back if Crew SC is still in the playoffs. “Our focus is on Sunday and on doing our work on Sunday and we can deal with all that afterwards.”
The U.S. will play England on Nov. 15 in London and then face off against Italy in a neutral site matchup in Genk, Belgium to close out 2018 for the national team.