Miller sees partnership with Mattocks starting to blossom

BURNABY, B.C. – Sometimes it takes a while for things to click. Other times, the spark seems clear right away.

It took seven games for Kenny Miller to score his first goal for the Vancouver Whitecaps, but one thing that’s looked like instant magic is the partnership between the Scottish Designated Player and Jamaican sensation Darren Mattocks.

As head coach Martin Rennie has often elected to play a 4-5-1-cum-4-3-3 with one out-and-out striker, the two have often been competing for playing time rather than playing alongside one another.

Last weekend, the pair got a rare chance to play up top at half-time, as Miller joined Mattocks up front with Vancouver down 1-0 to Colorado at the break.

“It’s the first half that we’ve played up front together,” Miller said after training at Swangard Stadium on Thursday. “I think there was definitely positives signs in the second half of the game that we can work together. If we’re given the nod on Saturday [against the Seattle Sounders], that’s another chance to try and go and form that partnership and make it stronger.”

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While Vancouver’s two goals in the 2-2 draw weren’t a direct result of that partnership, the two seemed to read each other well and cause the Rapids defense some headaches, with Miller often finding Mattocks running in behind the defense.

“When you’re my age, you learn to adapt with whoever you’re playing with,” the 32-year-old Miller said. “Darren is a very quick player, he’s got good movement – he’s got pretty much every attribute you like. For a guy who is probably the size of me, he’s got a hell of a leap as well – very strong in the air – so I think there are attributes in both of our games that can complement each other.”

Rennie said on Thursday he’s still undecided on whether the pair will start together against the Sounders (Saturday, 9 pm ET, NBCSN in US, TSN2/RDS2 in Canada, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), but seems enthusiastic about having the option if he so chooses.

“I could see [that partnership] potentially growing,” Rennie said. “With Darren’s pace and movement – if he makes a run that’s maybe not quite the right run at that time, Kenny has the experience and the know-how to complement that and talks to him and communicates well with him.

“We’ve got a good opportunity if we decide to go that way. They definitely have attributes that help each other.”

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.