PUEBLA, Mexico – Featuring at a World Cup for the national team was something Columbus Crew midfielder Wil Trapp used to dream about.
Now he and the rest of the US Under-20 squad are one victory away from achieving it, with Canada standing between them and a berth in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Tuesday's evening's CONCACAF U-20 Championship quarterfinals (6 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
“Everyone is feeling good,” the genial Trapp told reporters after training on Sunday. “We’re excited to be playing in the crossover match against a team we’ve already played before in Canada. We’re just ready to go.”
Trapp’s performance has been up and down through two games, much like the rest of the team. The terrier-like midfielder has the ability to break up opposition moves as well as launch attacks himself with neat passing, and even when it’s not all clicking, he’s still an important part of the US set-up.
“He’s a very calm player,” head coach Tab Ramos told reporters on Sunday. “I think he’s a good leader on the field, a good leader by example. He does all the things right and I think he’s a very important player for us.”
Yet that didn’t keep Trapp from being subbed off at halftime of the US’ 1-0 win over Costa Rica. He’d already picked up one yellow for a late tackle, and went close to getting his second with another bad challenge.
With Trapp on the bench, that left Sporting KC’s Mikey Lopez to do the midfield dirty work. Lopez subsequently earned himself a one-game suspension for his second card in two days, and now Trapp in back in the lineup for, undoubtedly, the most important game of his life.
“I’ve never played in any qualifying matches with the national team, so ... I’d say this is the biggest one, yeah,” he stsaidated.
Gahanna, Ohio, native, who has been involved in national teams from U-15 level on up, also admitted that playing Canada does hold some special importance for US players.
“There’s definitely some pride involved,” he said. “The neighbors to the north, it’s like playing Mexico, you want bragging rights over those kinds of teams.”
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.