You could tell Wil Trapp had himself a good January camp for the U.S. national team even before he kicked a ball in Sunday's friendly against Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The armband he took the field wearing made it clear he had impressed the coaching staff, both with his play and leadership qualities. There were other veterans who could have been chosen as captain, but the Columbus Crew standout received the nod.
Trapp made the decision look like an excellent one with a steady showing in the deep-lying midfield role in the U.S. setup. In a 0-0 draw with the typical disjointed and messy flow synonymous with January friendlies, Trapp was able to provide a stabilizing presence in midfield, connecting the defense to attack. He also provided some dangerous balls himself, including three key passes on the night.
Trapp's 83-minute showing was a strong follow-up to an excellent 2017 MLS season that saw him bounce back from a down year in 2016 to start every game for the Crew last season, helping lead Columbus to the Eastern Conference final.
Despite that success, Trapp had been a bit of a forgotten man in the U.S. national team conversation in recent years. That's partly due to the rising stock of youngsters like Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, as well as the breakout years enjoyed by Kellyn Acosta and Cristian Roldan.
It wasn't too long ago when Trapp was seen as a youngster to watch in the heart of the U.S. midfield. But in the span of one year, he went from rising star to someone who almost seemed forgotten when compared to other prospects.
What Trapp does have is five pro seasons and more than 130 MLS starts under his belt at the age of 25, putting himself in good position to take control of the defensive midfield role — especially if Michael Bradley decides not to return to the national team fold.
There are other defensive midfield options in the pool, but none quite like Trapp, who is more of a deep-lying distributor than tough-tackling ball winner. That said, his continued evolution as a player has seen him improve his positioning and effectiveness at neutralizing opposing attacks.
One game against a Bosnia B team isn't going to catapult Trapp up the U.S. depth chart, especially given the fact we still don't know who will be hired as the team's long-term head coach.
What Sunday's match does do is give Trapp some confidence as he heads into an important 2018. He will be dealing with the issues surrounding the Crew and a possible move away from Columbus, as well as the club's bid to make another run at an MLS Cup appearance.
And if caretaker U.S. coach Dave Sarachan is still in charge when the March friendlies roll around, there's a good chance Trapp has done enough to be among the MLS contingent called in for those matches.
That is all the midfielder can ask for after waiting a while for a national team return.
"The more you can just be in the fold, the more you can get on the field, the better it is for you," Trapp said during a postgame interview with Fox Sports.
Trapp's showing against Bosnia was more than enough to earn a return, and while he may not be as enticing a central midfield prospect as some of the younger options in the pool, he provided a reminder Sunday that he is a U.S. midfielder who could be a real factor in the years to come.