OBETZ, Ohio – Despite a loss to Honduras that made their path more difficult, US U-23 national team captain Wil Trapp says the group is feeling positive after beating Canada 2-0 to earn a two-game playoff with Colombia for a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“We were super disappointed because that was the game we needed to win,” Trapp said after Columbus Crew SC training Thursday. “But as a whole, coming back and showing the resolve against Canada and forcing this playoff was huge for our group and it showed the character of our guys. … That game against Canada was a character match, and I think we came through in spades.”
Of the team’s five matches in 13 days, Trapp played a part in four, captaining the side and notching a gorgeous assist to striker Jordan Morris. And while he was disappointed in the Honduras loss, Trapp felt overwhelmingly positive about the group and his experience as a whole.
“It was an awesome opportunity,” he said. “I had a blast, and it was an honor to represent your country in a qualifying tournament. To be captain was also pretty cool. I had a great time with the group. I thought it was a very talented, hard-working and driven group.”
Looking ahead to the playoff with Colombia, Trapp knows making the Olympics will be a challenge. But he has hopes of better preparation and some reinforcements.
“We have a lot of time to prepare, which is huge,” he said. “And maybe you’ll get some guys like John Anthony Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin because they’re age-eligible. We’ll see. It will be a great and difficult task, but one we’re up for.”
The team mostly played a 4-4-2 diamond with Trapp as its anchor. The role was similar to the one he plays in Gregg Berhalter’s modified 4-2-3-1 in Columbus, and the midfielder said he was comfortable in the formation and felt the style fit the U-23’s strengths.
“I thought it was good,” he said. “I like playing in that position regardless of the formation. But I think we have dangerous guys in the attack – Jordan Morris, Jerome Kiesewetter were excellent for us – scoring goals and creating chances. So that’s the biggest thing you need to have when you‘re playing that formation.”
With some perspective as one of the more seasoned USMNT youth products, Trapp said the U-23 talent pool is better than ever. He says he thinks they’re progressing well toward becoming active in the senior team as well.
“I can’t speak enough to the talent that was on the roster, to the guys who are coming up through the youth systems, whether they play in Europe or the MLS,” he said. “There’s lots of quality, lots of talent, and I think it’s a bright future for US Soccer.”
And while many observers have shown concern over US Soccer’s future after the disappointment against Honduras and the senior team’s loss to Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup, Trapp says the players aren’t feeling the doom and gloom.
“As for the state of US Soccer, we’re just trying to control what we can as players,” he said. “We don’t read into what the media is going to say about it. We just try to take care of what we can on the field.”
Despite Trapp’s busy schedule recently, Berhalter said he’ll be ready for Saturday’s match against Toronto FC (2 pm ET; TSN1 in Canada, MLS LIVE in US), and the midfielder scoffed at the idea of being too tired to go 90 minutes this weekend.
“I just got off a Thursday-Saturday schedule,” he said with a smile, “so this isn’t anything to me.”