August 4, 2010
By Charles Cuttone
AT THE READY
Union has newcomers all set to make a difference
CHESTER, Pa---The Philadelphia Union made the first significant changes to their roster in the last two weeks, and Manager Peter Nowak is impressed with his newcomers.
|Eduardo Coudet got his first MLS start last weekend against New England, and is expected to be available off the bench against fellow Argentine Guillermo Barros Schelotto and the Columbus Crew on Thursday night.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Recent signee Eduardo Coudet got the start at forward Saturday, alongside Danny Mwanga and Alejandro Moreno, while Justin Mapp, acquired from the Chicago Fire in a trade for allocation money, came on in the second half replacing Mwanga.
“I think he did a good job, especially in his first league game with us,” Nowak said of Coudet, who played in both friendlies against Celtic and Manchester United. “In a league game it’s a little different. We weren’t sure he could go 90 minutes. He was distributing from the back and being active in trying to find the guys in front of him. It was very good and positive. I think we can take a lot from this game, especially from his game today,” Nowak said of Coudet after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with New England.
“We are looking forward to improving his game and also getting him to be a bit more involved in not only distributing balls, but also active in the attack.”
Neither Mapp nor Coudet look to get a start when the Union conclude their long homestand on Thursday night when they host the Columbus Crew at PPL Park (ESPN2, 8:15 pm kickoff), but both will likely come in off the bench. So far, the Union are 1-1-1 in the first three games of their four-game home stretch.
Mapp, a starter for the Fire, became expendable when the team bolstered their midfield with two Designated Players, Nery Castillo and Freddie Ljungberg.
“I think Justin has great potential,” said Nowak. “We gave Justin a run for 35 minutes, and we believe that going forward he’s going to help us.”
Acquiring a versatile player like Mapp, who had 14 goals and tallied 36 assists in 174 appearances with the Fire, is going to help the Union with their depth and experience.
“For us as a coaching staff, we have choices and options, and we’ll look at the lineup going forward. We have four games in two weeks, so that will be a help to us,” said Nowak.
With the score tied 1-1 on Saturday, Mapp had a crack at a late go ahead goal, but his 89th minute shot went wide.
“It felt good to get out there, great atmosphere,” Mapp said of his Union debut. “I wish I could have done more with the couple of chances that I had to help us get the win.”
Mapp, a nine year veteran of MLS, despite being only 25 years old, was surprised by the trade from Chicago, but is looking forward to his time in Philadelphia.
“I’ve noticed over the years, anything can happen in this league, so it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. That’s just how the league is,” he said of being dealt by the Fire.
“I am very impressed with the fans, the crowd, the facilities, all top notch, so I look forward to being here,” he continued after getting his first taste of action in Philadelphia.
Mapp came into MLS right out of high school, becoming one of the youngest players in league history. After one season with DC United, he joined the Fire in 2002.
Coudet hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina and has even more experience than Mapp. The 35-year-old has played in Argentina’s First Division (Atlético Platense, ’93-’95; Rosario Central, ’95-’98, ’06; San Lorenzo, ’98-’99, ’04-’05; River Plate, ’99-’04 and Club Atlético Colón, ‘10), the Spanish First Division La Liga (Celta de Vigo, ’02), and the Mexican First Division (San Luis, ’07-.’09; Necaxa, ’09).
He spoke to another Argentine veteran, Columbus’ Guillermo Barros Schelotto, before signing with the Union, to inquire about MLS.
So far, the veteran likes what he sees. “It’s a very competitive league. It’s very strong, but I like the way they play, I feel comfortable,” he said.
Thursday night, he gets a chance to see Schelotto in a Crew uniform. The Crew saw their two-game winning and shutout streak come to an end, falling 3-1 to Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center on Saturday. The Crew lead the Eastern Conference with 34 points from 18 matches, seven points ahead of the New York Red Bulls.
The Union sit in a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 15 points from 15 matches. After the game with Columbus, they hit the road for a Sunday contest against FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park.
INJURY REPORT: PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: MF Shea Salinas (L fibula fracture);
PROBABLE: DF Jordan Harvey (L groin strain); FW Alejandro Moreno (R knee contusion); FW Danny Mwanga (R ankle sprain); MF Roger Torres (R ankle sprain).
COLUMBUS CREW – OUT: MF Eddie Gaven (concussion); DF Gino Padula (L knee inflammation); DOUBTFUL: MF Robbie Rogers (L knee inflammation)