Christian Mafla finally made his first 90-minute performance for the New England Revolution. The road to get here was a long one.
When New England acquired Mafla from Atletico Nacional, it seemed like he was going to be the starting left back. Then the Columbian got injured and Revolution fans were left wondering when they would ever see him play.
The left back admitted that his injuries left him frustrated, but he had some great support from his teammates and coaches.
Mafla said, Yeah, honestly it was difficult because I came with high aspirations to play a lot and be healthy from the beginning. The injuries certainly didn’t help that but I’m happy now. My coaches and teammates have supported me a lot. They’ve always been there to support me in those moments when one needs support. Now everything’s good and I want to return that support on the field to hopefully continue the winning streak we’re on.”
After not playing since the beginning of the season, Mafla returned to the pitch for the first team in July when New England headed down to Atlanta. Since then the 28-year-old has appeared in every game for the Revs including his latest effort against CF Montreal.
Mafla told the media on Thursday that he was feeling good after getting 90 minutes under his legs.
Even though it might have been frustrating, Mafla’s teammates always talked about how great of a locker room guy he was. For the Columbian this is always who he has tried to be as a teammate.
He said, “I try to spread the happiness around wherever I am. Playing soccer is a blessing for me. that’s why I try to come happy every day. I try to share that with my teammates and coaches. For me it’s a blessing. I always enjoy it. I try to carry a smile with me and share that with everyone else.”
With such few games in the United States under his belt, it seems as though Mafla is still getting adjusted to the style of player in MLS. Particularly Mafla’s effort on defense has made fans concerned. The 28-year-old talked about the difference in style of play between Columbia to MLS.
Mafla said, “They’re very different. This league is much more physical. You’re running the whole game. Atletico Nacional in Colombia is a more possessive team. They like to keep the ball and maintain possession. Here it’s more running all the time. I had to adapt to the differences in the beginning, but I feel like I’ve done that and I feel a lot more comfortable in MLS.”
Especially with his injuries, it has taken Mafla some time to adjust to all that running that he mentioned. The fact that he was simply able to play 90 minutes is a positive sign.
But there is still room for improvement for the left back. Against Montreal he was caught out of position and the Canadian club nearly took advantage.
Hopefully Mafla will continue to get consistent playing time and improve as the season progresses. With DeJuan Jones healthy enough to play on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls, Mafla will need to show he has earned the starting job.