VANCOUVER, B.C. – Just past the halfway point, things are going well for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
But for Darren Mattocks as an individual, this can’t have been the sophomore season he expected. As a matter of fact, it's nearly the polar opposite of what he predicted.
Prior to the season, the Jamaican striker asserted that he was capable of scoring 20 goals – this after a rookie campaign in which he bagged seven goals and added a playoff marker against the LA Galaxy in a first-round defeat. But after starting the first four games of this year, Mattocks eventually found himself out of favor as he’s started just twice since.
In all, the 22-year old has three goals from his 12 appearances, six of which were starts. That may not be terrible, statistically, but his lack of involvement has surely been challenging. Even as a sub he’s been used sparingly, due in no small part to the dynamic form of the preferred attacking trio of Camilo, Kenny Miller and Russell Teibert.
“It’s been a hard few months for him,” Miller said of Mattocks on Saturday. “He’s obviously found himself out of the team and after the season he had last year, I’m sure he was expecting it to be a lot different this year."
But in this Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders, Mattocks came on and helped seal the win with a well-taken goal in the 79th minute – and apart from his strike looked more energetic than he has at earlier stages of this season.
“He could have had a few more at the end there," said Miller. "We’ve seen in flashes this season what Darren can bring. ... Hopefully that will kick him on and we’ll start to see the best of him this year.”
Now the hope for the Jamaican is that he can kick on and use this goal to return to form and break back into the starting lineup. But given that Vancouver’s favored formation only has room for one out-and-out striker and that Camilo, one of the league’s most in-form players, is manning that position, there is still seemingly plenty of work to be done on Mattocks' end.
“It’s a test of faith I would say,” Mattocks said following Saturday’s win. “To be honest it’s really tough but I know what I’m capable of doing. That’s the biggest thing. It’s going to take something very dramatic for me to get my confidence down because I’m a really confident person. No one’s ever going to take that from me.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.