24 Under 24: #12 Darren Mattocks, Vancouver Whitecaps

12. Darren Mattocks

Pos: F | Vancouver Whitecaps | Age: 23

The reigning No. 1 from last year’s list, Mattocks’ slide, for Vancouver’s sake, will hopefully be chalked up to a season of injury and inconsistency. But even after his return from knee surgery, he has still been an afterthought with the emergence of the attacking trio of Kenny Miller, Russell Teibert and Camilo. After leading the playoff-bound Whitecaps with seven goals last year, the speedy Mattocks has just three this season. “We know he's a good player, we know he's got a lot of ability and he's got great pace,” Vancouver coach Martin Rennie said recently. Now they just need more production.

What TDs and coaches like: "Darren is electrifying. I think he’s had it a little bit more difficult in Year 2 than maybe he had hoped. He bragged that he was going to score 20 goals this year and I’m not sure that he’s gotten anywhere close to that but Darren has electrifying pace. ... He’s gotten better in and around the goal over the last couple of years. ... Talk about a young man who can change a game with his athleticism and his ability to finish. He’s one of those kids that has tremendous upside to be a star in this league for a lot of years. ... He's not a guy that's great at linking up, but he's not really interested in linking up – he's trying to get in behind and stretch defenses. That's quite a weapon to have and I think once he gets re-integrated into their group, he's going to be an absolute handful the way he was towards the end of his rookie year. ... For a guy who's not super tall, he is good in the air. ... He's a danger to every team he plays because of his ability to run in behind."

Where TDs and coaches want improvement: "I think for him maybe continuing to work on the finishing with his left foot, maybe a little bit braver in front of goal in terms of going after balls in the air. ...  What you’re seeing is he’s got all this pace, and when he gets into goalscoring positions, he has the ability to finish. But you can’t just rely on that pure athleticism at this level. You’ve got to have an understanding of when to run, where to run, bringing other players into the game, especially with his back to goal. ... He's had a real tough second season, the sophomore slump. He's sort of fallen out of favor and he had the knee injury, so it's going to be very interesting to see how he bounces back from that. ... The issue is, he's not a great link-up player, and I think he needs to be to step to the next level – even though you don't want him to lose the ability to run in behind."

Opta Says: Darren Mattocks ranks third among players eligible for 24 Under 24 with 11 goals scored since the start of the 2012 season.
 

Tale of the Tape
Last Year in 24U24: #1
Castrol Index (as of 9/18/13): #250

2013 Stats
Matches played: 16
Matches started: 7
Goals: 3
Assists: 1

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