Even in a strictly average season, some Columbus players have excelled
This year's Crew SC team has some All-Stars on it. Whether the actual MLS All-Star roster reflects that remains to be seen.
Fan voting for the All-Star Game, in which a team of MLS elites will face Spanish super club Real Madrid in Chicago this August, is open until June 30 at mlssoccer.com. According to an update posted Saturday, June 17, no Columbus player has cracked the top five vote-getters at any position — understandable, to a point, considering Crew SC's lack of household names and middling record (sixth out of 11 Eastern Conference teams).
Yet despite the club's painfully average performance overall, a handful of Columbus players have been outstanding. Here's why they deserve an invite to Soldier Field.
Justin Meram: The Iraqi-American midfielder signed a lucrative extension early this season, and he's earned it with consistently dynamic attacking. His career-high eight goals (yes, he matched his career high in less than half a season) rank him fourth in MLS, and he leads Crew SC with six assists. He also ranks third league-wide in the hard-to-explain Audi Player Index. After Meram's hat-trick in Montreal, an op-ed on mlssoccer.com dubbed him “a bona fide star” and “the best winger in MLS.” It's hard to disagree.
Federico Higuain: The Argentine midfielder is close behind Meram with seven goals and five assists and sometimes seems to single-handedly (single-footedly?) will Columbus into matches. He is the rare creative wizard who hustles just as hard on defense. Columbus simply operates at a higher level when he's playing.
Ola Kamara: Kamara's eight goals match Meram for the club lead and tie him for fourth league-wide. That should be enough to at least put the Norwegian striker in the All-Star conversation, but because fan-voted events tend toward known quantities, don't bet on Kamara even making it to the bench.
Wil Trapp: As a holding midfielder, Trapp's work is not glamorous. He doesn't score goals, make dramatic saves or even record many assists. His job is to keep possession, and he does it beautifully. In April, Opta Sports reported Trapp was completing 72 passes per game — more than five times any other player. The same source recently reported Trapp completing 89.7 percent of his passes in the opponent's half, second best in MLS. Still, don't be surprised if his roster spot goes to a big-name attacking midfielder instead.