MONTREAL – Penalty kick, no penalty kick. Inside the box, outside the box. Hand, shoulder. There was much to disagree on in the Montreal Impact’s 4-2 Amway Canadian Championship semifinal win (5-4 on aggregate) over FC Edmonton on Wednesday night.
One thing, though, was pretty difficult to disagree with: Justin Mapp is really, really good.
“It’s still incredible to me that this guy hasn’t even gotten a look with the [US] national team,” Montreal head coach Frank Klopas told reporters on Wednesday. “He’s one of the best wingers, for me, in this league. He’s a dynamic player. He’s a difference-maker, which you don’t find a lot.”
In this complicated season for Montreal, Mapp has built on his strong 2013 to remain the team’s most consistent performer. He is their spark, the man who gives them a chance to turn a game upside down and inside out with a single play. He draws fouls when opponents do catch up to him, and has five assists in ten games in all competitions.
Yet there have been no phone calls, no conversations, nothing at all from USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s camp. Without an international cap since 2007, Mapp getting on the plane to Brazil would have been quite the achievement, but he’ll be left to cherish the eight appearances he did make, as grudgingly projected by MLSsoccer.com’s Matthew Doyle last month.
“No indication,” Mapp told reporters on Wednesday. “Never heard from any of those guys. It feels good to know that, I guess, people have taken notice of my playing well lately. I’m just trying to stay consistent. Having never heard from their camp or US Soccer, that’s kind of in the past now.
“Obviously I’ll be rooting for them there, and focusing on doing the job with the Impact.”
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Mapp unexpectedly put in a long shift on Wednesday. With an away-goals exit looming midway through the second half, Klopas kept Mapp on but had contemplated preserving him for this Saturday’s MLS fixture at D.C. United (7 pm ET, MLS Live). But then, as the reigning Canadian Championship MVP, Mapp playing 90 minutes probably felt right.
“We were looking at that moment to take him out, but then, you’re always thinking, 'OK, we gave up the two goals and now we want guys that can break the opposing team down,'” Klopas said. “And he’s definitely one of those.
“Justin’s been fantastic. He’s one of the best players in the league. He’s a difference-maker and he’s an exciting player to watch.”