MONTREAL—It’s been a long time coming, but Justin Mapp is finally set to return to action.
Mapp, 30, suffered a dislocated and fractured shoulder in the Montreal Impact’s Major League Soccer season-opening loss on March 7 when he fell over D.C. United’s Bill Hamid and Chris Korb while running onto a pass from teammate Eric Alexander.
The veteran midfielder was originally ruled out for four months, and he returned to training in June while continuing his personal rehab as he slowly inched closer to coming back on a full-time basis.
That time has arrived, as Montreal coach Frank Klopas confirmed that Mapp has been cleared by the medical staff and is available for selection again.
“He’s all cleared and ready to go,” Klopas told reporters at Tuesday’s practice.
That’s good news for an Impact side that hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final. The return match is scheduled for Aug. 26 in Vancouver.
Could Mapp see action against the Whitecaps this week?
“Maybe,” Klopas said with a coy smile and a shrug of his shoulders, not wanting to tip his hand.
Montreal currently sits sixth in the Eastern Conference with an 8-9-4 record. The top six teams in the East make the playoffs, and with 13 games left in the season and three trailing teams within five points, Montreal can expect a fight for that final berth.
That’s why the return of Mapp is such big news for the Impact—they could use a player of his ability who can take on defenders one-on-one and who adds a creative spark in the final third of the pitch.
“He’s not only Montreal’s best winger, but I see him as one of the best wingers in MLS,” soccer commentator Lloyd Barker told Sportsnet back in March after Mapp picked up this injury.
“When you talk about a guy who gets the ball at his feet at runs at opponents with success, there’s not a lot of guys who do that in this league, and Justin Mapp is one of them.”
Klopas called Mapp “a real difference-maker,” and not without justification—the Mississippi native has been named MVP of the Amway Canadian Championship in each of the past two years, helping the Impact win back-to-back titles.
“He’s been training for a long time and he’s looked sharp. I think it was just a matter of his arm strengthen getting there. He’ll be available (on Wednesday) so that’s great news for Justin and for our club to have an important piece like this, a real difference-maker, for our team for the second half of the season,” Klopas said.
Mapp was not made available to speak to the media during the Impact’s practice on Tuesday morning.