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Christian Mafla getting up to speed

There was plenty to be excited about after Christian Mafla’s debut with the New England Revolution.

SOCCER: APR 24 MLS - DC United at New England Revolution Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Revolution fans have had to be patient when it comes to Christian Mafla, but after his first game with the club, it’s safe to say that the wait was worth it.

Mafla had a late start to the preseason as he picked up an injury. He was able to play in just a few preseason games for New England.

Mafla actually started the season with Revs II just so he could get some minutes to build up his fitness. This made DeJuan Jones the starter for the 2021 season opener.

But in New England’s home opener, Mafla finally made his regular season MLS debut. The Columbian played 54 minutes before being replaced by A.J. DeLaGarza.

When he was on the pitch, Mafla definitley showed his skill. He had some impressive balls forward and should be an asset on the attack.

On the defensive side of things, Mafla was decent. The left back isn’t exactly known for his defensive ability and is lucky to have not walked off the field with a yellow card with one tackle seeming worthy of a booking.

Overall it was a solid debut especially since Mafla told the media on Thursday that he feels like he is at 75-80%.

Revs goalkeeper Matt Turner was impressed with how Mafla played in his first game.

“He did a great job in that game,” Turner said. “I think his fitness held him out from the second half, he came out early and that’s because in the preseason having a small knock and getting him up to speed. I think he’s technically really gifted on the ball, he helps us pass out of trouble sometimes.”

But Mafla hasn’t only made an impact on the field. Turner also described how great Mafla is in the locker room.

“I think on and off the field he brings a great energy to this club and to everybody,” the goalkeeper said. “He’s trying to learn his English and he really wants to be immersed in American culture and things of that nature so he’s a great guy to have in the locker room and on the field. When he’s out there, he’s a warrior who wants to battle for this club that gave him a chance to come to the U.S. and it’s been fun to get to know him. I’m sure you’ll see in some videos and clips that his personality comes out, he’s a big jokester and a good guy.”

It’s safe to say that the affection is mutual when it comes to Mafla and his teammates. The Columbian has only been with the team for a relatively short time but already describes his Revs teammates as family.

“With my teammates, everything’s very good,” Mafla said. “I’ve found good people and a great family that has helped me in every way they can. I’m happy to be here. I hope to re-pay them for everything they’ve done for me on the field when it’s my turn to play. Overall, I’m just happy to be here.”

After his performance against D.C. United, Revolution fans have to be wondering what Mafla’s role will look like. Bruce Arena will have a decision to make as Jones is eligible to play after serving his suspension.

When asked if Mafla will be the starting left back moving forward, Arena stated that it’s too early in the season to make that decision and that the left back still needs to improve his fitness.

“We’re in game three – we don’t have a starting team yet at this point in the year,” Arena said. “Christian [Mafla] showed well at times. The game was a good indicator to us that he needs a lot more physical work before he can be a full-time player. He’s aware of that. We’re working with him on a daily basis to improve his fitness. He missed some of the preseason because of an injury, and it’s going to take a little bit of time for him to catch up with the rest of the group. But he’s an experienced player in that position. That’s why we brought him in here, and we’re hopeful over the next month or so we can get him back to full speed.”

If this is how Mafla performs at 75%, Revolution fans must be excited to see what he can do when he reaches full fitness.