CHESTER, Pa. – Justin Mapp has yet to register a goal or an assist this season.
But if the Philadelphia Union midfielder keeps creating the kinds of chances like he has over the past two games, the points will surely start to come.
Fresh off a strong game in Dallas, where Mapp set up two very good scoring opportunities in the opening 20 minutes, the midfielder had another solid offensive performance in Philly’s 2-1 win over Chicago on Saturday.
“Justin Mapp had a great game,” Union manager Peter Nowak said following the result that put the Union (5-3-2) into first place in the Eastern Conference. “He was visible, he was trying to move defenders and help us also in the midfield to create some things.”
One of the Union’s problems this season has been a lack of a creative option in the midfield – a very large reason why they are tied for last in the league with eight goals scored.
But in recent weeks, Mapp has been the player to link the midfield to the strikers, with smart possession and on-target crosses from his position on the left flank.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Union defender Danny Califf said. “He’s doing a good job running at the defense and creating problems.”
One of Mapp’s craftiest passes came in the first half of Saturday’s game when he took a quick throw-in that put Michael Farfan into space. Farfan, who later scored his first MLS goal, ran onto the ball in the box but pushed his shot just wide.
“I’m trying to be aggressive and hopefully that feeds the rest of the team,” Mapp said. “We have a very good defense, so we’re hoping to get more goals so we can get more wins.”
If nothing else, Mapp certainly showed his former team what they are missing. The 26-year-old midfielder played for Chicago from 2003-10 before being traded to Philly in the middle of last season.
“The team has changed a lot since I’ve been there,” Mapp said of the Fire. “There are only three or four players who I was good friends with when I was there. But it’s still a little weird playing with them since I was there for so long.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.