Wil Trapp - Artur - 5.9.2018

If there are two positions where you want to see versatility, it’s in the central midfield.

For head coach Caleb Porter, the willingness to display variety at the No. 6 and No. 8 positions is a testament to the players in those roles, most notably Wil Trapp and Artur.

“[Trapp] and Artur, those two guys are the engine room of our team,” Porter said. “They’re the guys that are gonna make us go, both sides of the ball.”

Just as tactical variety on the wing has a major impact on match-by-match planning, the utilization of the No. 6 and No. 8 roles is something Porter will look to vary going forward, noting how ultimately, they are the two centerpieces when it comes to defensive positioning and interrupting the opponents, as well as establishing rhythm and possession from back to front.

“Pipa is the one that should unlock the opponent with those final passes, but Artur and Wil, they’re the two guys that gonna cover the most ground, they’re the two guys who are gonna disrupt the opponent, they are the two guys who are going to help give us rhythm and possession from back to front,” Porter said.

It's no secret the build-up from the back, including from the feet of goalkeeper Zack Steffen, has been a blueprint of Crew SC, with Trapp often sinking back to help distribute. With the Crew trying to establish a higher presence upfield, however, the roles of Trapp in transition and Artur pushing into the final third won’t be so static, according to Porter.

“I think Wil can play higher, but I think it’s mostly our whole team that’s playing higher, that’s the big adjustment,” Porter said.

“We’ve added that into the good back half build-up, but that was not a trademark of Columbus, is keeping the ball in the front half, as patiently looking to keep the game there and it was really pleasing to see [vs. FC Cincinnati]. And so, I think it was more the whole team was in that half and so he was higher, but also I do think that Artur and Wil are able to both play the six and the eight.

“So for me, I think you have to be unpredictable a little bit with who’s coming and getting the ball because if it’s always Wil and Artur’s always pushing on, teams can kind of game plan for that and I think both are capable of playing deep and getting the ball out of the back. They are both capable of pushing on and helping support the attack.”

Of course, the key, Porter said, ultimately runs through Higuain, who has the innate ability to not only deliver the final ball but to know when to create passing angles and to overload for odd-man chances in the attack.

From a passing-competent backline, through a versatile and creative midfield into a high-pressure No. 9 player, it’s a great example of overall balance.

“I like the balance of the team, you look at Wil and Artur and Pipa together, those three are really balanced. All three can keep the ball, all three work hard, and will put the shift in defensively, which is important,” Porter said. “It all kind of fits together and let’s not forget about Gyasi. Gyasi is the guy that’s finishing the play and he’s the spearhead of the attack and he stretches and brings that physical piece, so I think there’s very good balance in the team.”

The Crew open the season on Saturday, March 2 against the New York Red Bulls at 4:30 p.m. ET at MAPFRE Stadium. You can find the latest Crew SC news on the MLS App, or by following us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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