VANCOUVER, B.C. – It’s been a bit of a bumpy start for Darren Mattocks, but now that he has a few games under his belt and has put a burn injury behind him, he looks as deadly as advertised at up front.
Selected second overall by the Vancouver Whitecaps in January's SuperDraft, hopes were high he’d provide head coach Martin Rennie a selection headache up front from Day 1.
Then, a cooking accident in late March set him back – he couldn’t even train as his body wasn’t able to sweat properly due to the burns he sustained.
But last weekend, he showed just how deadly he can be, bagging two goals in Vancouver’s 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo.
“It feels really good,” Mattocks told MLSsoccer.com following a training session this week. “I’m looking forward to playing against Colorado] on Saturday. I just got to keep working, keep focused. It’s great to be back training again because each game is different.
GOAL: Mattocks' second ices it
“I just have to take it one step at a time in practice and hopefully contribute again on Saturday.”
After bagging that brace on Sunday the 21-year-old might be forgiven for talking up his confidence or defending his ability ahead of Saturday's visit from the Rapids (7 pm ET, watch LIVE online). Instead, the Jamaican opted to speak about which areas he feels there’s still room to grow.
“I feel I need to work on my finishing, most importantly,” Mattocks said. “I got a couple of goals on the weekend, but as a striker you always have to work on your finishing. I also have to work on more composure in front of goal, but that’s a striker – keep working on stuff like that, keep linking with my guys in midfield – [Gershon] Koffie, [Davide] Chiumiento, whoever. I have to focus on finishing crosses and getting good runs into the box.”
While the player himself isn’t keen to discuss the adversity he dealt with after suffering those burn injuries, senior players have taken notice of the youngster’s resilience.
Goalkeeper Joe Cannon made particular reference to Mattocks’ ability to come back from the disappointment of his first MLS start against the Seattle Sounders, when the rookie missed a handful of guilt-edged opportunities.
“He really complements this team,” Cannon said. “Kudos to him for putting his head down, especially after the Seattle game. I know he felt kind of bad. Coming back with the reserve game goals as well as two goals [against the Dynamo] – I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg for him.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.