COLUMBUS - Saturday afternoon marked a new beginning for the transitioning Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium. Crew SC’s 1-1 draw in the Major League Soccer regular season opener against the Chicago Fire gave the Black & Gold a chance to debut a new captain, five new players and new 2017 Primary Jerseys.
Midfielder Wil Trapp was given the captain’s armband for the 2017 campaign by Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. Trapp was named a MLS All-Star last season and the 24-year-old previously spent three years as a Vice-Captain for Crew SC.
Berhalter spoke on Trapp’s character after naming him captain at Thursday's 2017 Media Day.
“Wil is a pro's pro. He’s a guy that comes to work every single day and is focused and works hard and wants to learn and wants to apply what he’s learned to the game,” said Berhalter.
Trapp recorded 81 successful passes in the match, 10 of which were long passes. The captain of the Black & Gold also won three tackles and headed two clearances against the Fire.
Saturday was also a milestone for the five players that made their MLS debuts. Zack Steffen, Jonathan Mensah, Jukka Raitala, Mohammed Abu, and Artur all saw their first action on the pitch in Columbus.
Steffen, the starting goalkeeper, played all 90 minutes in his debut and recorded two saves between the posts. He was named the starter at GK days ago after beating out Brad Stuver in a position battle during the offseason. The former Discovery Signing Steffen was born in Downingtown, PA.
Berhalter shared his thoughts on Steffen and the curren state of the goalkeeper position.
"He did well," Berhalter said. "I think he did well. I think with his feet, he was good. He looked calm, he looked collected. I think he did fine."
Abu started the contest as well and completed seven long passes to pair with a tackle won. The midfielder from Namasa, Ghana, started in two matches during the MLS Carolina Challenge Cup prior to the season.
Defender Raitala won three tackles and intercepted three passes after starting the contest in his MLS and Crew SC debut. He hails from Helsinki, Finland.
Mensah, from Accra, Ghana, started the contest at defender as well and won two aerials and headed two clearances.
Artur, entered the contest at the 72-minute mark as a substitution for Abu at midfielder. He was a part of the Columbus defense that prevented a go-ahead goal by Chicago in the final moments of the contest. The 20-year-old hails from Bahia, Brazil.
"I think they did well, all of them," Berhalter said. "All of them did well. When I think about Jukka [Raitala], I think he was solid. Jonathan [Mensah] was solid. Mohammed [Abu] I thought was pretty good. I thought Artur came in and was okay. And then Zack [Steffen] did well."