VANCOUVER, B.C. – As Vancouver Whitecaps striker Darren Mattocks enters his fifth match of the season on Saturday, he'll do so with no goals.
But there's little doubt over whether he'll start at home against the Colorado Rapids (6:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE), for what he's been doing off the ball and for his teammates.
“He's been great,” Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson told MLSsoccer.com following Thursday's training session at BC Place. “He really has. His work ethic's been fantastic. His team play has been second to none, and no, he hasn't got any goals as of yet, but I think once one goes in off his backside or he scores, then a flow will come. But Darren's been great so far, obviously, without the goals, but that'll come.”
But is there a point where, as a striker, a lack of goals will mean Mattocks gets the drop?
“Not while we're winning, no,” Robinson said. “I don't care who scores. Jay DeMerit can be the top goal scorer in the team for all I care, as long as we win games of football. As long as you're contributing to the team, however that may be, then you're playing an important goal.”
With his pace, Mattocks generally forces opposing defenses to play deeper, lest they be caught out with one of his signature runs in behind. The knock on effect is that Vancouver's midfielders have a bit more room to exploit in those pockets between opposing backlines and midfield – an ideal scenario for the likes of Pedro Morales and the side's other creative central players.
- Get the latest headlines at WhitecapsFC.com
“The fact he's not scored, fine, he'll be a little bit frustrated, but he'll be very pleased with the performances he's put in in the first four games,” forward Kenny Miller said. “He's drew the penalty [vs. the Houston Dynamo last weekend], he's ran New York ragged, he's ran Houston ragged at home. His runs beyond have created space for Pedro Morales and allowed him to get on the ball and make the passes that he makes.
“So, as much as he hasn't scored, it's not all about scoring. For forwards, at the end of the day, it's about the team winning, and at the moment we're doing that. It won't be too long before Darren hits the back of the net I'm sure.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.