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Raves: Justin Mapp

Editor’s note: Over the next few weeks, PSP contributors will be posting what we’re calling “Raves” about our favorite Philadelphia players. They need not be the team’s best players, but they’re guys we like. You hear plenty of rants when the Union losing. Here are the raves, continuing with Ryan’s rave about Union midfielder Justin Mapp.

“He plays on the left, he plays on the right, that boy Mapp-O makes Pink Cows look shite!”

Ok, so the song needs a lot of work. Thankfully, Justin Mapp doesn’t.

The midseason acquisition has been a creative force for Philadelphia Union.  Other than Roger Torres, he’s been the only creative force this season. The sinewy, 5’11” winger has injected much needed class into a Union midfield short on attacking flair.  Count Justin Mapp as one of three game-changers currently employed by the Union, the others being Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga. He did precisely that when he came on in the 65th minute away to New England earlier this year. Down a goal to the 10-man Revs, Mapp slotted in Jack McInerney with a perfectly weighted pass for the equalizer before burying an injury time winner to take all three points from the road.

Mapp-O downs the Revs...

A U.S. International with five senior caps to his name, Mapp has all the tools in his box- the deft flicks, the backheels, the crosses, that cannon of a left foot. Plus, he can be deployed as an inside-out winger, increasingly popular in the modern game with the likes of Arjen Robben carving up defenses for club and country. Mapp is arguably the most skilled player on the team.  And, according to this raver, unarguably. He’s the player Fred used to be and who we can only hope Danny Mwanga becomes. He’s slick, he’s polished, and at times, simply electrifying. His pace is deceptive but his vision and precision obvious.

Tactically, he is exactly the width the Union need. On the left side, he can dice up defenders, get to the end line and swing in dangerous crosses. From the right, he can cut inside and fire away.  He can even play in the hole behind the center forward or as a withdrawn striker or trequarista.

Technically, he can dazzle with Ronaldo-esque stepovers, open up defenses with incisive passing, and even get stuck in when necessary. He is a complete footballer. Not in the Gerrard, box-to-box mold, but in the I-can-beat-you-in-different-ways van der Vaart mold.

Is he the future of U.S. Soccer and Sam’s Army’s savior? Possibly not. Could he be the River End’s messiah? Possibly. Do I think he’s rave-worthy? Most definitely. I tip my cap to Mapp—the slightly underachieving, immensely talented, somewhat balding 26-year old native of Brandon, Mississippi. Happy Birthday Mapp-o! Here’s hoping you carve up the guys in hard hats on Sunday!

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