US National Team
Crew midfielder Wil Trapp and the United States begin their 2013 U-20 World Cup Qualifying campaign against Haiti on Monday night in the CONCACAF U-20 Championships in Puebla, Mexico. The Homegrown product from Gahanna, Ohio has been a mainstay in Head Coach Tab Ramos' camp leading up to the tournament, and figures to be an influential figure in the United States' midfield.
The U.S. features in Group A of the 12-team tournament with Haiti and Costa Rica as the top four nations will advance to the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer.
Monday night's match against Haiti can be found on FOX Soccer Channel, and will be shown live at 6:30 p.m. ET.
While Jairo Arrieta will join the Crew's preseason camp in Orlando, Fla. in the coming days, another player has left the Black & Gold for International duty.
Homegrown rookie midfielder Wil Trapp left Columbus Thursday morning for Puebla, Mexico, the site of the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. Trapp has been a mainstay in the U.S. U-20 National Team's midfield over the last two years, as the Stars and Stripes hope to qualify for 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer. The top four teams in Mexico will move on to the big stage in Turkey. The U.S. failed to qualify for the last World Cup in 2011.
"It's going to be big," Trapp said before leaving Columbus. "I'm excited just because the 20s as team last time did not qualify [for the World Cup]. We want to kind of make-up for that and do well and qualify for the World Cup. It's a huge stage. I just want to make it, big time."
Trapp spent 10 days with the U.S. U-20 National Team in Puebla in January to prepare for the altitude issues the team will face in the tournament before joining the Crew for its preseason trip to Bradenton, Fla. The United States has been placed in Group A of the tournament with Costa Rica and Haiti. Trapp and the U-20s will kick off play on February 18 against Haiti.
Wednesday was supposed to be a day off for Crew Homegrown midfielder Wil Trapp. After spending the past eight days in Puebla, Mexico at United States U-20 National Team where he also played all 90 minutes in two friendlies against Panama, a day of rest made sense for the 20-year-old MLS rookie upon returning to Columbus Tuesday evening.
"It's been a quick turnaround, but it's nice to get in with the team before we head down to Florida," Trapp said. "It's nice, I'm excited to get going.
"The layovers weren't the best and whenever you travel there's a little jetlag involved, but luckily the time difference wasn't too bad. I'm still young. I can handle it."
There was no pressure on Trapp from Technical Director Brian Bliss to attend Wednesday's training session in Lewis Center, who was surprised to see Trapp in the mix when he arrived.
"Anytime a National Team player returns from a camp and he's been taxed as they usually are with travel, training and games, you usually like to give them some time off," Bliss said. "Wil was eager to get after it and acclimate to his new teammates. He wanted to get right in there and mix it up with our guys and decided not to take that extra day off. With all the travel and the games he looked pretty sharp today."
Trapp will likely return to Puebla with the U-20s in February in preparation for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in an effort to qualify for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer.
"It was good to get used to the altitude down there because it's going to be the same for Qualifying," Trapp said. "We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish [in team camp]. The results weren't the best, but it happens.
"I think we're doing well. We have a few injuries, but I think everyone will be healthy to qualify and move on to the World Cup."
Trapp and the Crew will travel to Brandenton, Fla. on Thursday for their first preseason camp.
The United States U-17 Men's National Team kicked off the 2012 Nike International Friendlies Wednesday night in Lakewood Ranch, Florida with an eight goal draw against South American power Brazil. Crew Soccer Academy Wolves product Ahinga Selemani seemingly scored the winning tally in the 81st minute, just 11 minutes after coming on as a second half substitute. However, Brazil got the equalizer three minutes later when Murilo headed Indio's free kick past U.S. goalkeeper Paul Christensen to cement the 4-4 result. CSA alum and Grove City native Ben Swanson went the full 90 minutes in Richie Williams' midfield.
The U.S. U-17s resume play in the series against Turkey on Friday.
While preparations were being made ahead of tonight's match between the Crew and Chivas USA, a message from U.S. Men's National Team coach Jürgen Klinsmann was found scrawled on the white board in the Crew coaches' office left following the US's 1-0 victory over Jamaica at Crew Stadium last week:
"Coach Robert & Crew Coaching Staff,
Thanks a lot for having us and we are looking forward to coming back again!
Good luck for the rest of the season!
YOU CAN MAKE IT!
Coach Jürgen & Martin Vasquez"
Robert Warzycha was happy to have the support from Klinsmann as the Crew vies for a playoff spot.
"It shows we have classy National Team coaches," Warzycha said. "They obviously care about MLS and about us doing the right things."
The U.S. Men's National Team returned from Jamaica to hold a public training session at Crew Stadium. Over 3000 fans got to watch the USMNT up close and personal.
The last time the U.S. Men's National Team played at Crew Stadium was when the Yanks toppled rival Mexico on February 11, 2009 in 2010 World Cup Qualifying. Michael Bradley provided both goals in the 'dos a cero' 2-0 victory.
The only holdovers from that squad currently with the Stars & Stripes are Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore... and of course Frankie Hejduk, who started that match at right back, will be roaming around Crew Stadium on Tuesday night when the US hosts Jamaica.
Here are some highlights from the match from 2009:
After spending the summer playing with the United States U-15 and U-17 National Teams, Crew Soccer Academy standout Benny Swanson has accepted an offer to participate in the US U-17 Residency program in Bradenton, Florida.
The 15-year-old Grove City native hopes his decision will help him secure a spot in next year's U-17 World Cup.
"It's a great opportunity. It was kind of hard to pass up," Swanson said. "The [FIFA U-17] World Cup is next year in Dubai. I would like to make that roster, hopefully. If I don't, I hope I just learn every day in training in that environment with that pro mentality."
"It's great for our organization," Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss said. "Obviously it's a little bit premature to be speaking about Benny as a future pro for the club, but he's on the right track. It gives credibility to our organization on the youth side as to what we're doing."
Bliss says residency can only help Swanson's promising skill set.
"Right now, he's only getting three or four days of training each week, he's going to get five or six days each week training with the top players in the country at his age [in Bradenton]." Bliss explained. "He's got the ability to break down players off of the dribble and create on his own. He works for the good of the team in terms of being a team player. He's got an eye for the pass and can deliver it. He's got a multitude of skills and being in that environment for the next year, it's going to make him a better player."
The young midfielder's drive and skill set reminds Bliss of a certain US Men's National Team mainstay.
"He's got a lot of things Michael Bradley had," Bliss said. "Bradley grew physically really quick at the end, but he was also undersized. [Bradley] had the ability to dribble, pass, create, and had the same attitude and hunger for the game that Benny has. There are some comparisons. They may be unfair because Michael is a full national team player and I don't want to put pressure on [Swanson], but he's got a lot of this same [skills]."
Being in the same sentence with Bradley and others who attended the U-17 Residencty previously such as Landon Donovan, Brek Shea, and Eddie Gaven is still surreal Swanson says, but he remains determined to one day don the Black & Gold as a professional.
"It's kind of surreal, but I've been working hard. That's where hard work will get you," Swanson said. "The Crew has helped me a lot to progress as a player and as a person."
"[Playing professionally for the Crew] would be a dream come true," he finished.