MONTREAL – Last Saturday, in Washington, something happened for the first time since August 28, 2010: Justin Mapp assisted a Jack McInerney league goal.
Then, both came on as substitutes for the Philadelphia Union and created the winning goal at the shorthanded New England Revolution. Mapp had moved to Philadelphia a month earlier, after a lengthy stay in Chicago. McInerney, who’d just turned 18, only had one start and one goal under his belt in MLS.
Now, Mapp is an established, key figure in Montreal. Through 10 games this season, he has four league assists– and his career-best is eight. The 21-year-old McInerney has scored five in seven games in all competitions for the Impact. Count on them not to wait another four years to join forces again.
“We trained and worked together every day back then,” McInerney told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “Coming here, it being a new team and me not knowing everyone else as well, [Mapp] was one person that I did know, and I know his tendancies. He’s a player that, for me to be successful, needs to be on the field as well. Both of those put together is leading to what's happening on the field right now.”
Mapp’s assist against D.C. United was actually his third for McInerney that week: two others came the previous Wednesday’s against FC Edmonton, in the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal.
For Mapp, it wasn’t much of an adjustment to serve an old teammate. And the similarities between McInerney and Marco Di Vaio enabled Montreal, in Di Vaio’s absence through injury, to only marginally tweak their style.
“It’s just a matter of getting the ball in spots that I like and trying to find them around the box, whether it be getting at the line and cutting it back – I’ve found Marco in the past that way – or just slipping the ball through if they’re making a run along the line,” Mapp told MLSsoccer.com. “They’re very similar in their movements. They like the ball in similar spaces.”
Di Vaio could be back against the Colorado Rapids this Saturday. The Montreal staff is still juggling with how best to work Mapp and the two strikers into the lineup.
“But right now, it’s just about making those connections, whether we’re both on the field at the same time or not, it doesn't really matter,” McInerney said. “We both know our tendancies now, what each other likes. Wherever we are on the field, we have to make it work.”