Traut stands tall at the back

[ MORE: Three things to do before the finale ]

It is often said of defenders that the best ones go unnoticed. That is to say that their lack of headline-grabbing errors or blunders often mean no headlines at all.

If that’s the case, then the lack of press FC Buffalo defender Keith Traut has gotten this season matches his play. The towering American centerback has been rock solid on a back line that has given up little in the way of chances or goals.

“For me, it’s just getting my job done. I focus on the playing the most simple game that I can,” Traut said. “I’ve always been like that. That’s the soccer philosophy I was taught: making the simplest pass and making sure you’re in the right position.”

[ MORE: 2016 Awards ]

“He’s very solid, very strong, really good in the air, great positioning. He always covers for the other center back or the guy next to him,” head coach Brendan Murphy said. “He’s smart and simple with the ball. He’s safe with the ball. He’s not trying to Cruyff a guy at the top of the 18-yard box and then pass it back to the keeper. It’s good to have a guy who’s reliable defensively.”

FCB vs INDTraut has formed a powerful partnership with fellow centerback David Acuna Camacho. Both the coaching staff and defensive duo credit their strong play this season to their own qualities and a strong relationship on and off the pitch.

“When I first got here to Buffalo, I got here the day after Keith. He’s a great guy. Over the last couple of months, we’ve gotten close. We live on the same street and we spend a lot of time together,” Camacho said. “He’s got a great work ethic. Defending is all about figuring out what’s going to happen before it happens, and I think he does that very well.”

The feeling is mutual.

“[David]’s a really friendly guy. When it comes to non-verbal cues, we’ve picked up on that,” Traut said of his fellow central defender. “I think we’ve gelled very well together. It continues with how he is and how we both are and I am really happy with how the two of us have developed together and I am glad we’ve been good for the team.”

Traut’s play has propelled his team to a run of good form after a difficult start to the season. Although the run, which has netted just one loss in six league matches, has not been enough to get the Blitzers into the playoffs, the staff has been happy with Traut’s development.

[ BUY: Discounted tickets for our regular season home finale ]

“I use the summer has a vehicle to work on things I’m not as good at,” Traut said. “One thing is being able to get up and head the ball. Centerbacks, especially of my stature, can jump. That’s something I wanted to get better at. Also, passes out of the back. Certain situations, where I can play long balls on the floor rather than through the air.”

Another thing that makes Traut stand out is his willingness to play through pain. Although he’s spent several training sessions nursing injuries and going through therapy, he always fights to find himself in the starting XI on match-days.

“He’s battled through injuries and played with some pain all year. It’s a testament to his toughness. He wants to be out there,” Murphy said. “That permeates through the rest of the team.”

“It’s the message that it sends to his teammates. It’s also a message that we get as a staff,” said assistant coach Bob Roach. “It shows his passion for the game. It shows his love for the club. These players all love the game, but that extra effort has shown where guys are in matches and training and you know they’re hurting, but they push through. They never use it as an excuse.”

For Traut playing through the pain is not anything he wants to take credit for. He views it as another part of the job.

“It’s a knock to me when I’m not able to go out and do well for my team. I take it seriously, all the treatment and things like that,” Traut said. “I like to be up for game day. It’s a special thing for me. Any player will tell you, as long as you’re fit for game day, you’ll put the treatment in during the week and get out there and do what you can.”

Traut has been impressed with the way the squad has come together has a whole in a short but grueling NPSL season. He is looking forward to finishing the season on a high note and taking some good lessons away from his summer in Buffalo.

“It’s been difficult, but we’ve come together really well. Finding the formula to combine those groups and create a good chemistry, it’s been good for us,” Traut said. “It’s always a process with new guys. It’s a big credit to our coaching staff. I think we’ve done well.”