At the Montreal Impact’s Jersey Week event, on March 4, Justin Mapp got one of the warmest welcomes. If anything, his start to 2014 will only encourage the fans to cheer him louder.
Mapp’s direct running at Jair Benitez and Matt Hedges and his defensive involvement in both ends of the field arguably made him Montreal’s outstanding performer in last Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at FC Dallas.
But the Montreal faithful will recall with most fondness Mapp’s assist in the 10th minute, when he beat three opponents in a six-second sprint before crossing to an open Sanna Nyassi, an assist as mesmerizing as Mapp’s description of it is unassuming – he didn’t even spot Nyassi making that run, he said.
“Whether the crosses come from the left or the right, it’s your job, as an attacking player, to get yourself in good positions in the box,” Mapp told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Wednesday. “Sanna positioned himself well, Felipe made a good run to draw a defender, Andrew [Wenger] as well. I was just trying to put it in a dangerous spot, and it’s kind of tough to really pick them out in that moment. He was there, I found him, and he was able to score.”
Head coach Frank Klopas, who crossed paths with Mapp in Chicago when he served as technical director for the last 18 months of Mapp’s seven-and-a-half years with the Fire, expected no less from his right winger.
“I kind of know him a little bit, I know his character and what he brings,” Mapp said. “He didn't really tell me a whole lot, other than to just continue to try and be dangerous this year, [based] on what he saw last year, and be aggressive.”
Leaving his usual left flank was a kickstarter for Mapp’s 2013 season, as he picked up a goal or an assist in six of the seven games – in all competitions – following the switch. No swap needed this time, though, and early signs are promising.
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While he relishes the opportunities to cut in onto his stronger foot, his assist on Saturday showed that Mapp, who can pick a pass or unleash thunderous drives with his left, has a plan B if defenders show him outside.
“I have to use my right foot, whether it may be my weaker foot or whatnot,” Mapp said. “If I can get to the byline and clip the ball in or try to put the ball in a dangerous spot, you have to trust your right foot, in my case. And if I am able to get on my left and get a shot off, then that’s another option. I definitely have to trust my right leg.”