BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Fire technical director Frank Klopas held court at Toyota Park Tuesday morning, explaining his decision to trade midfielder Justin Mapp to the Philadelphia Union in exchange for allocation money on Monday afternoon.
“I think that Justin is not a starting player for the team,” Klopas said. “I think we can talk and talk about how he had a lot of potential, but over the last couple years, the production hasn’t been there.
“It’s the same this year. I mean he’s a great, great guy off the field and [has] a great personality, but I just felt that we all needed to move on.”
Mapp, who struggled to crack the Fire’s starting XI in each of the last two seasons, signed a lucrative four-year contract with the Fire at the end of the 2008 season. Klopas said the contract wasn’t the reason for the trade.
“The most important thing is the production on the field,” Klopas said. “Obviously, the salary’s up there and you expect from someone like that to be on the field, to be a starting player in the team, to be producing and that’s not the case. In the end, we need to make the best decisions for the team and try to improve the team and thought at this point it just wasn’t enough for us.”
Klopas was tight-lipped about who the team will bring in to replace Mapp. He declined to mention any names and wouldn’t say whether Mapp’s replacement will be a Designated Player.
“There are people that we’re looking at, obviously,” Klopas said. “We’ve had a lot of guys that have been in camp before that we’ve looked at and also some other guys that haven’t been in camp that we’re looking at. But, like always, it’s got to be the right fit for the team.”
The Fire acquired Mapp before the start of the 2003 season via a trade with D.C. United. The 25-year-old midfielder made 174 appearances and scored 14 goals in Chicago.
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @samstejskal.