Fire ship Mapp to Union for allocation money

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- If the Chicago Fire are putting themselves into a stronger position for another key signing, they have additional finances to make the move.

On Monday, the Fire traded midfielder Justin Mapp to the expansion Philadelphia Union in exchange for allocation money.

"We would like to thank Justin for his contributions to the Chicago Fire and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors," Fire technical director Frank Klopas said in a statement.

According to figures released by the MLS Players Union in June, Mapp has a base salary of $245,000 in 2010. The combined salaries of Fire starting defenders C.J. Brown and Krzysztof Krol and starting goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra are less than Mapp's base salary.

In addition to the freed-up finances, Chicago is parting ways with a midfielder whose playing time and contributions diminished considerably over the past season and a half.

In 2009, Mapp started in only 11 of 21 matches and had a goal and three assists. This year, he has started in six of 10 games and has one assist and no goals.

These subpar seasons followed up a stretch that included eight-assist efforts in 2005, 2006 and 2008.

Former Fire player and current Union head coach Peter Nowak potentially could insert Mapp as a starter right away. The 25-year-old Mapp might make his Union debut Saturday against the New England Revolution.

Mapp played in Chicago for eight seasons, from 2003 to 2010. During that stretch, Mapp tallied 14 goals and 36 assists in regular-season play.

The Fire's decision to trade Mapp follows the team's recent signing of designated player Nery Castillo about a week ago.