Justin Mapp, left, in action in the Amway Canadian Championship against Toronto FC. PHOTO: FRANCOIS MELLET/ CANADA SOCCER
When the Montreal Impact selected Justin Mapp from the Philadelphia Union in the expansion draft, there weren’t a lot of tears shed by fans in the City of Brotherly Love. The Mississippi-born midfielder had spent the previous season and a half in Philly, showing occasional signs of the skills that prompted D.C. United to draft him before he had finished high school.
But he rarely rose to the level of play he had shown with Chicago in 2006, when he earned mention on the MLS Best XI.
The then-27-year-old with a decade of MLS experience behind him did not increase his fan base during the Impact’s inaugural 2012 campaign. Mapp played under 1700 minutes in 2012, spreading them over 27 appearances. He started 21 matches but only played a full 90 minutes three times, all early in the schedule. While his scoring numbers, a pair of goals and five assists were not in and of themselves sub-par, fans and media found more than a few things that rubbed them the wrong way about the veteran’s play.
Beset by a series of niggling injuries and obliged to leave the team briefly for family reasons, Mapp spent most of the season trying to get in gear, to less-than-ideal results. As the season unrolled, his questioners became doubters and doubters became critics.
Observers wondered about his fitness level, citing a perceived lack of endurance. All too frequently, Mapp dribbled into heavy traffic but lost the ball, leading to questions about his game sense. Critics expressed dismay at his crosses, too often directed, it seemed, to infinity and beyond.
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