Today the Crew signed Gahanna native Wil Trapp, a defensive midfielder, making him the club's fourth Homegrown signing. After playing two years collegiately for the elite Akron Zips squad (whose coach Caleb Porter just left to coach the Portland Timbers of MLS), the Gahanna native will become the youngest member of the Crew's roster (he turns 20 on Jan. 15).
Why is this important? For one thing, Trapp is a champion. He led Gahanna Lincoln to a state championship in 2009. He was named national high school soccer player of the year in 2010. Earlier this year he scored the winning goal as Crew Juniors won their third U-19 national championship in four years. He is on the U.S. U-20 national team for a reason.
Which leads me to another great bit about this Trapp signing: It spotlights how successful the Crew's youth development program has been. Three national titles in four years? The Crew had better hope they can hold on to these kids! And that's exactly what the Crew is doing. Trapp is following in the footsteps of Matt Lampson, Ben Speas and Aaron Horton, three previous players to make the leap from the Crew's youth development system to the first-team roster. The Dispatch's Adam Jardy reports that the Crew hopes to sign as many as three more Homegrown players this year.
Now the challenge is translating that talent into results on the pitch. Lampson, Speas and Horton saw extremely limited playing time in 2012, partially due to injuries and partially due to being the low guys on the depth chart. But when they did play, they shined, particularly when Speas and Horton each chipped in a goal during an exhibition against English Premier League club Stoke City. If these guys were so great with the youth program, and so great in college, and they've been so great in limited professional minutes, let's hope they get lots of chances to be great for the Crew this year.