Love him or hate Him, Justin Mapp has definitively been a source of debates among Montreal Impact fans and observers. The left-footed midfielder had a difficult expansion season with the club but always showed enough technical skills to keep you wanting more.
Mapp's skills have also impressed Sporting Director Nick De Santis. The club made the decision to keep the talented midfielder within its ranks. After re-negotiating the existing contract , both club and player found a middle ground in the off-season. Taking his mind off the business side of soccer, Justin Mapp came back harder, better, faster and stronger.
Chastised for his lack of fitness, Mapp has only averaged 59 minutes per game in 2012. Coming off at the 65th minute was so predictable that it almost became funny. In the same time, it was frustrating for the fans, the club and especially the player.
Everyone knew that Justin Mapp did not have any bad intentions for some of his lackluster performances. But Inconsistency was his tag throughout his MLS career , a career that started in 2002.
Signed to a MLS contract in 2002, he was part of the Project-40 program (what used to be Generation Adidas). He was identified as a talented player almost destined for MLS success. Though there is no direct correlation between a big contract and what happens in one's career but Mapp's talent was deemed to be already at a high-level .
Starting his MLS career with the Chicago Fire, expectations only got higher as he accumulated MLS experience, while learning the trade. Having only played two MLS playoff games with the Fire, his subsequent stint with the Philadelphia Union was not a memorable one though.
That trend seemed to have continued with the Montreal Impact in 2012 as he started the year injured right before pre-season. He never really picked up a sustained rhythm throughout the season. What was going to happen in 2013?
It was not the best of start in March 2013 when Justin Mapp was subbed out at half-time against the Seattle Sounders. Did Marco Schallibaum lose faith in him already? Actually the first year MLS head coach is Mapp's biggest ally but the injury bug came back to haunt him again.
Blamed for all the woes of the world last year, his chemistry with Marco Di Vaio was almost non-existent. The Italian striker did not shy away from expressing his frustration. Though that frustration was more generalized as the chemistry between Di Vaio and the rest of the team was at a 100%. And in this situation, Justin Mapp seemed more of a villain not passing the ball fast enough, or soon enough or precisely enough. It's a question of facts but also of perception.
But a new revamped Mapp emerged back in Montreal after a 2-game west coast road trip and he never looked back since. Talent always emerges with hard work and he was able (and still is) to produce 80+ minutes performances. : you can ask Toronto FC. Justin Mapp had his best game of the season in a 6-0 rout of the Reds during the 2nd leg of the Canadian Championship semi-final.
Between himself and Andres Romero, Justin Mapp is definitely the more latin player of the two. With the best 1-on-1 skills on the club, his presence on the Impact's right flank makes him dangerous against most left-backs and whoeover else that tries to stop him.
The good news for the Impact is that Mapp has found himself and the club will hope that he continues on his path towards his full potential.