CHESTER, Pa. – The bad news for the Philadelphia Union is that Justin Mapp was playing his best soccer of the season when he left last Saturday’s game against the Rapids with a right groin strain.
The good news, however, is that Mapp’s injury is being considered very minor and he’s questionable for this Saturday’s game against Real Salt Lake at PPL Park (4 pm ET, MatchDay Live).
“It feels pretty good,” Mapp told MLSsoccer.com. “I had aggravated it a little Thursday in practice and then I kind of re-aggravated it early in the game; I don’t remember exactly when. It was early and I felt like it wasn’t getting any better, so I tried to catch it before it got too bad during the game.”
Mapp, a 10-year veteran of the league, missed two games earlier in the season with a hamstring strain – another injury he caught early to avoid missing more time. Once he got healthy, he emerged as one of the focal points of the Union’s attack. In the three games leading up to last weekend, Mapp was arguably the team’s best offensive player, and he created more good chances in Colorado before hobbling off in the 25th minute.
“Justin has played fantastic in the last month or so, but this just gives someone else an opportunity,” Union assistant coach John Hackworth said. “I don’t think he will be out for too long, so that’s good.”
Later in the 1-1 draw with the Rapids, another Union midfielder with a strained groin – Stefani Miglioranzi – made his return to the lineup. Miglioranzi, who had been out for a month after hurting himself in training leading up to Philly’s contest against Portland on May 6, said he made the trip to Colorado only as an insurance policy and didn’t expect to play.
“I thought things were going well but [manager Peter Nowak] wanted to sure up the midfield for the last few minutes, and I felt good enough to go, even though the plan was just for me to be there in case someone got injured,” Miglioranzi said. “It got me over the little fear that I wasn’t ready yet.”
Although Miglioranzi is a holding midfielder and Mapp plays on the flank, having one veteran return just as another went down is certainly a good thing for the first-place Union, who have also been missing injured midfielders Amobi Okugo and Michael Farfan.
Miglioranzi noted he probably could have gotten onto the field sooner, but the team was being cautious with his injury, just as they’re currently doing with Mapp.
“From my experience playing, I know it’s one of those things you can try to play through but end up missing two-to-three months because you end up tearing it,” Miglioranzi said. “And I think we have depth, not only in numbers per position but also with lots of players playing multiple positions.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.