David Cath, ColumbusCrewSC.com
The number of days between goals at MAPFRE Stadium for Columbus Crew SC midfielder Wil Trapp.
One note – Trapp’s jersey looked a bit different nearly nine years ago. Prior to Saturday’s game-winning goal against Orlando City SC, Trapp’s last tally on the award-winning field occurred in the 2009 Division I Ohio High School State Championships, and it could not have come at a more ideal time.
“I think it’s a captain’s performance,” said Sporting Director & Head Coach Gregg Berhalter following Crew SC’s 3-2 comeback win over the Lions. “You’re looking at dropping two points, and Wil comes up with a bit of magic, and I thought he played excellent. I thought he’s another one that really kept on fighting in the game. As unlikely as it looked at times, we never gave up, and I think that’s the important thing.”
As clutch as Trapp’s performance proved to be, Berhalter’s comments related to an overarching theme not only throughout Saturday’s performance, but through the last couple weeks for Columbus – staying determined, collectively, despite the result.
In the midst of a three-game stint against Eastern Conference teams, Columbus arrived on Saturday in fourth place in the conference standings after an overall solid performance at New York City FC, but without the result to show for it.
On Saturday, the club took to its home turf, a place that boasts a 7-2-3 record for the Black & Gold. However, the first half proved favorable for the visitors, as the Lions took a 1-0 lead into the break to mollify any early momentum.
Enter the hunger factor.
“[It was] just the mentality,” forward Gyasi Zardes put succinctly following his two-goal performance over the weekend.
“We had a great mindset, although we went down 1-0, and then even 2-1. We were really focused on getting back into the game. It was just a great, great atmosphere.”
From the wings, including Pedro Santos’ team-high five chances created, to goalkeeper Zack Steffen coming through late in the second half to keep it a one-goal game, to the club’s 17-0 corner kick advantage, Crew SC’s grit showed on and off the stat sheet, from the newcomers to the veterans.
“I mean, this is what we’re talking about. The ability for guys to come in and make a difference whether you’ve been on the team for a while or whether you’re a rookie, whether it is your first game after a week being with the team,” Trapp noted.
Forward Patrick Mullins, who was acquired July 11 from D.C. United, nearly logged the game-tying goal with a header in the final 15 minutes off a cross from Santos, while Edward Opoku, who made his first career MLS start on Saturday, brought intensity on the wing with a shot that eventually preceded Trapp’s goal.
From the starters to the reserves, to the coaching staff and beyond, it was undeniably a team effort.
“The theme of the game was ‘playing together, fighting together,’ and I think they really did that,” Berhalter commented. “I think it was amazing to see us not give up; to have the resiliency to keep going even though we were down twice in the game. So, that’s first and foremost what I’m really excited about.”
Up next, it’s a key three-versus-four match-up on Saturday, July 28, as the Black & Gold head to the New York Red Bulls, who stand five points ahead of Columbus in the standings.