COLUMBUS, Ohio – For much of the 2013 MLS season, a hallmark of Robert Warzycha's Columbus Crew lineup has been the pairing of two defensive midfielders in the center of the pitch. While formations have changed and lineups have been fluid, two midfielders sitting in front of the defense and behind playmaker Federico Higuain has been the go-to look from the Crew midfield.
But with the emergence of Homegrown talent Wil Trapp and injuries to Matias Sanchez and Danny O'Rourke, Warzycha found himself using Trapp as his only defensive midfielder last Saturday in a win over the New York Red Bulls, and the lineup may be here to stay.
"After the game in New York, you don't want to change too many guys," Warzycha told reporters after training on Thursday. "You have to give the guys some confidence, especially the ones that played well, they need to be on the field."
The Crew return to aciton on Saturday vs. Toronto FC at Crew Stadium (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live).
Trapp says that being alone in the defensive midfield role helped him to find more space to operate, and that he has thrived in a similar role in the US Under-20 national team squad.
"I think one of my strong points is getting the ball off of our center backs and outside backs and the goalkeeper and connecting that way, and I think Bernardo [Añor] is better at being more up front and being a little more dangerous, so it was a perfect balance between the two of us," he said. "I prefer that position, that's where I played in college and with the U-20s, so it's a good fit for me."
Anor found himself in a more advanced role in the latest formation, a spot usually reserved for Higuain, who played forward alongside Jairo Arrieta. Añor said that despite his history as a winger, he prefers the advanced central role.
"I think that's the position I like the most, to be honest," he said. "It's something that gets me more involved in the game. I can connect with defenders and forwards, try to control the tempo of the game, move the ball side to side and switch the point of attack. It definitely gives me more time with the ball, and it's something that I like."
While Anor found more time on the ball, Higuain seemed more dangerous than ever, leading to a goal-of-the-week nomination for his long-range chip that clinched the win for the Crew. Despite the success, Higuain says it doesn't matter where he plays.
"In any position, I feel comfortable," Higuain told reporters through an interpreter on Thursday after training at Crew Stadium. "It comes down to what the coach decides is going to be more useful for the team. I feel as comfortable playing more up front as I do being a little more laid back."
Trapp got his first MLS point with the assist on Higuain's golazo, and the Argentinian says that he likes playing with Trapp, and that he doesn't see him as many view the 20-year-old.
"I don't necessarily consider him to be that young," he said through an interpreter. "Young in other countries means 16 or 17 years old. As far as his qualities go, he's very talented, and he's going to bring a lot to this team."