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Mapp: A lot of positives against Houston

There have been two major schools of thought about the Union’s win last Saturday’s at Houston.
1) It was a good win that showed how much the Union have improved from last year, when they would have thrown the points away (Dellacamera). 2) It was a lucky win that showed how little the Union have progressed from last year’s scattered and inconsistent offensive system.

Getting better all the time

“The first game is never perfect,” Justin Mapp says, “We played really well in the back and, offensively, we had a lot of positives. It’s only the first game so there is a lot we can still do.”

Mapp was a revelation last season. Coming to Philly from the smoldering embers of the Chicago Fire, he had the unlikely task of proving that he still had gas in the tank at age 25.

A goal and four assists showed he did.

Leadership

“It’s good having a full year under my belt, I can be a bit of a leader among the guys,” Mapp says, “I think actions speak louder than words, so I don’t think I need to pull anyone aside. But I show them how I work and play.”

With five playoff points to his name, Mapp has the kind of experience that breeds mental toughness. He also has the quick feet and skills on the ball to take on defenders and add an intimidating dynamic to the Philadelphia offense.

He took two shots – both on goal – against Houston, the fruit of playing high up the pitch and putting himself in good positions.

“I felt good in the game. We were trying out a 4-3-3 at times and I got to push up in the offense and work with Seba and Ruiz.”

A tactical tool

Mapp was integral to the success of the Union’s tactical system. He had to get forward in possession and while recognizing when he needed to drop back into a midfield role and take on more defensive duties.
The Union need their best left-sided player to connect with their goalscorers early and often this year. Finding a consistent link between the midfield and strikers is essential for the team to take the next step.

There is no doubt that Kyle Nakazawa and Roger Torres have the potential to fill this role. But on the current roster, nobody has the passing pedigree that Mapp brings to the table: Three times he has collected eight assists in a season.

“Everyone kind of knows when you’re all playing well together,” Mapp says, “The ball is moving well and your first touch is good.” By those standards, the Union were not playing together very well on Saturday.

Roberto Carlos?

Mapp has the right attitude though. He has been around long enough to know that when you win a messy game, it brings a team together. The Houston match also raised another question about Mapp’s role on the Union. Will we ever get to see that torpedo tube of a left foot launching free kicks?

“We don’t have anything like [the Pittsburgh Penguins shootout drill],” Mapp laughs. “Maybe we should have something like that to see who takes them.”

3 Comments

  1. Ed Farnsworth says:

    Interesting to read Mapp talk about the 4-3-3. Kerith Gabriel reported that Nowak talked about a Le Toux, Ruiz, Mapp frontline at Wednesday’s press conference.

  2. I actually thought Mapp had quite a good game against Houston — mainly defensively. He was a total pest in the midfield and the offensive third when Houston had the ball, picking up errant passes and keeping possession (he was pretty much the only one on the team who kept possession). I was annoyed when Nowak pulled him with 30+ minutes for Danny M., and sure enough, Houston started to get considerably more offensive penetration pretty much as soon as he came out.

  3. Nice Post! Great strategy in soccer play!

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