Midfielder Chris Birchall, whose contract option was declined at the end of this year, took his name out of the MLS Re-Entry Draft to return to his native England. Birchall started 18 games this past season, recording 1 goal and 2 assists. A scrappy midfielder, both Birchall’s veteran presence and ability to fill in on the right wing will be missed. I wish him luck wherever his career may take him.
Tony Tchani, a midfielder with a lot of potential and raw athleticism but not much to show for it, was re-signed by the Crew last week. Tchani is only 23 years old, and the verdict is still out on him. He just completed his third MLS season, playing in 22 games and picking up 2 goals and 2 assists.
By far the shallowest position on the Crew’s current roster is defense. Carlos Mendes, who joined Columbus before the 2012 season and started 12 games, is another defender that will not be back next year. Mendes, a native of Long Island, joined the New York Cosmos on Tuesday afternoon, primarily for family reasons. Mendes’ first seven MLS seasons were with the New York Red Bulls, and his family still presides in the city. The New York Cosmos will be joining the NASL (second division) in the fall of 2013.
Wil Trapp, arguably one of the most hyped youth soccer players in recent history, also just so happened to come up through the Crew’s youth academy. Playing high school soccer at nearby Gahanna Lincoln, Trapp lead the Golden Lions to a Division 1 state title while also earning a myriad of individual honors, including the 2010 NSCAA National High School Player of the Year. A magazine I happened to pick up in March of 2011 called Trapp, “Ohio’s most feared player.”
After an amazing high school career, Trapp headed upstate to the University of Akron. Under head coach Caleb Porter, now of the Portland Timbers, Trapp started all 45 games during his two seasons, recording 1 goal and 8 assists. Trapp primarily plays as a defensive midfielder, but he is more of a box-to-box player than a destroyer. Here is a video of Trapp’s lone collegiate goal:
Trapp has also been a mainstay the U.S. U-20 national team. He was recently called up to take part in their training camp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, next week.
Columbus signed Trapp as their fourth Homegrown player yesterday afternoon, joining Aaron Horton, Matt Lampson, and Ben Speas. Signing someone as a Homegrown means that the player went through your youth academy and, therefore, can be signed by you before becoming available to other teams in the MLS SuperDraft. Trapp has been a member of the Crew’s academy since 2007. The 19-year-old was named the Crew Soccer Academy Player of the Year in both 2009 and 2010, and also scored a goal to help the team win the 2012 U-19 NYSA National Championship. He decided to play for his hometown club rather than pursue other options in Europe.
Wil Trapp is the first new player signed by Columbus this offseason. If he stays healthy, the youngster could find a way into Robert Warzycha’s starting XI by 2013′s end. The Crew have a little depth in the center midfield position, but it is nothing that a player of Trapp’s caliber can not overcome.