Justin Mapp’s outstanding long-range effort, tucked in the bottom corner, against the San Jose Earthquakes understandably grabbed a few headlines. But anyone who's been watching Mapp recently knows that bit of skill was anything but sudden.
Rather, it was the peak of one of the great weeks in the midfielder’s career.
Against the Earthquakes, Mapp was, in a word, splendid, a fitting follow up to a magnificent performance against TFC earlier in the week. Not only did the wide midfielder score two deserved goals in the 2-2 draw, but he also put in a complete performance, doing a bit of playmaking as well as tracking back to help out his outside back, Jeb Brovsky. Yet Mapp was typically modest as he addressed his performance after the game – “I was just trying to put it on frame,” he said of his spectacular goal.
The Montreal staff, howver, felt more at ease giving plaudits to the man of the match.
"Justin is one of our best technical players, and this season we wanted to get him to a physical level that would help him give a lot to the team," assistant coach Mauro Biello told Montreal newspaper La Presse. "He once again performed well after his great Wednesday outing. We're really pleased with his performance."
To put it mildly, Mapp wreaked havoc midweek against Toronto FC in the Amway Canadian Championship as well. The goal and assist that appeared on the scoresheet certainly didn't do justice to his performance from a qualitative perspective considering just how involved he was in nearly every play – it would have been three assists if shots generating a rebound were tallied as such.
Mapp will get his first crack at helping Montreal seal a place in the CONCACAF Champions League against the Vancouver Whitecaps on May 15 at Stade Saputo. Meanwhile, the Impact hope they'll see more of what Mapp brought against San Jose during this week's double feature in New York on Wednesday then back in Montreal on Saturday.
First, though, he'll have to get his legs back under him after a busy stretch puncuated by yet another dynamic performance against the Quakes.
“I thought [my performance] was, overall, good,” Mapp told MLSsoccer.com by phone at Buck Shaw Stadium. “Not the freshest of legs, but I was able to make a couple of plays, tried to limit them getting crosses in down my side. Myself and Jeb did a fairly good job at that. They’re a tough team, that’s kind of what they do. It could always be better, but I thought it was all right for the most part.”
Mapp has certainly enjoyed himself this past week, and a positional change might have helped. A left winger by trade, Mapp started on the right for the first time this season against TFC. The rave reviews he has gotten wholly support head coach Marco Schällibaum’s decision to have Mapp swap sidelines – and, unsurprisingly, the player supports it, too.
“It’s a different look,” Mapp said of his switch to the right. “Being a left footed player, it gives me the ability to cut in and have more opportunities on goal as opposed to cutting in from the left and having it on my right foot. It’s a look I kind of like. Hopefully I’ll be on the right again out there.”