SPRINGFIELD, Pa --- Eight years with any sports franchise is a long time, but it’s even longer after joining the club as a wide-eyed teenager.
That’s the story of new Philadelphia Union midfielder Justin Mapp, who before being traded to Peter Nowak’s club on Monday spent the better part of a decade with the Chicago Fire organization.
Brought to the City of Brotherly Love in a trade for allocation money, Mapp is ready to get the new chapter of his career moving, despite his nostalgic feelings for his former home.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” Mapp said Wednesday after making 174 appearances for the Fire. “I’ve been there a while, so I was pretty comfortable with the city and my friends and teammates. I’m excited to be here though, and very optimistic, so I’m looking forward to it.”
WATCH: Mapp connects with McBride
Mapp admitted that he didn’t see the trade coming.
“I was a little surprised, just for the fact that I’ve been there for so long,” Mapp said. “It kind of hits you. It doesn’t really sink in immediately. I know anything can happen in this league and I’ve seen players in and out through the time I’ve been there.You can’t stay in one place forever, so it has to happen at some point, I’d imagine.”
Mapp is a rare breed in MLS, still just 25 years old but already with nine years of league experience. He started his career with D.C. United in 2002 before he was dealt to Chicago, where he was an MLS Best XI selection in 2006. He boasts 36 career assists and 14 goals in league play over his career.
“It seems like a good group of guys,” Mapp said of the Union. “I’ve only been here one day, but they are a good group, a young group. If they [the younger players] need any advice from me or anything, I’m always willing to do that. Whatever way I can help out.”
The Union return to action against the New England Revolution on Saturday at PPL Park.