MONTREAL – When the Montreal Impact last dropped by Red Bull Arena, Justin Mapp assisted a Marco Di Vaio strike to initiate a near-comeback in stoppage time. He might just get to link up with the Italian again this Saturday.
Out for nearly a month with a left hamstring strain, Mapp looks to have overcome the injury and should be available for selection when the Impact and the New York Red Bulls face off for the third and final time this regular season (7 pm ET, watch on MLS Live).
In that 2-1 defeat to the Red Bulls on May 8, Mapp very nearly picked up a second assist, crossing the ball for Hassoun Camara who chested it down for Di Vaio to smack it against the frame, albeit from an offside position. Those thrilling last few seconds have stuck into the Impact players’ minds, and Mapp is looking forward to his team’s shot at redemption this weekend.
“I feel better,” Mapp told reporters on Thursday. “It’s been frustrating, missing these last few weeks. It’s good to be back out there. You can't control those things. You just have to be patient. There are still plenty of games ahead. I look forward to getting back out there, hopefully Saturday.”
Coincidence or not, Mapp’s absence overlapped Montreal’s poorest run of form in 2013, during which they posted a 1-1-2 record. According to midfielder Patrice Bernier, Mapp’s return is a welcome bonus as the team readies for a crucial stretch over the next few weeks. The winger had been in tremendous form before picking up the knock, tallying two goals and four assists in 11 games and providing spark after spark in the attacking third.
“When it’s going well for the team, certain players stand out, and when a player like him or Davy [Arnaud] gets injured, he loses momentum, especially when they’re in full swing,” Bernier said. “It’s good to see him back. He’s an attacking player who can change a game through scoring or helping others to score.”