There were a lot of firsts in Saturday’s match between Columbus Crew SC and Chicago Fire. Most importantly, it was the first match of the MLS season for both sides and it proved to be a compelling match for two tried-and-true rivals.
While some may be disappointed with just one point from the home opener, it needs to be understood that the Fire are a vastly improved team and Crew SC players are still getting to know each other.
Ethan Finlay tallied his first goal, while Justin Meram got his first assist. Both will be counted on to do more of the same in a long MLS season. It’s great to see them open their accounts in Game 1.
Five players made their Crew SC and MLS debuts including goalkeeper Zack Steffen, defenders Jukka Raitala and Jonathan Mensah, and midfielders Mohammed Abu and Artur. All received starts in the 1-1 draw, except for Artur who came on as a substitute in the 76th minute.
These new players looked solid and will surely improve as team chemistry is still a work in progress. This will be a unit to watch for moving forward.
Wil Trapp made his first appearance for the Black & Gold since being named team captain, an exciting development for the 24-year-old midfielder. Trapp has been a prodigy of sorts, signing with Crew SC as a 19-year-old Homegrown Player in December of 2012.
“Wily Franchise” spent two seasons at the University of Akron, choosing to leave school early and spurning reported offers from Europe to join his hometown team. Trapp has already earned 17 caps in the U.S. national team system, 15 with U-20s and two with the senior national team. 2016 was a rough one with the youngster battling injuries, but expect Trapp to be omnipresent in the Crew SC lineup in 2017, adding to his 91 starts and 8,040 minutes played.
Crew SC now hit the road for two games against Houston and D.C. before a 2015 MLS Cup rematch with the Portland Timbers at home on March 25th.