VANCOUVER, B.C. – There was an interesting stat floating around before Saturday's 2-2 draw between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the LA Galaxy.
Darren Mattocks was playing seven consecutive matches for the first time in his young career.
For a player who has so often come under intense scrutiny, it can be difficult to remember just how inexperienced the 23-year-old is.
To take it a step further, given the regularity with which the Jamaican international has been in and out of favor in Vancouver, some might find it surprising he's still at the club at all.
Under first-year head coach Carl Robinson, however, Mattocks has emerged as an integral part of the Whitecaps lineup, doing more than just contributing goals – even though he's done that, too, including a goal that got the hosts back into the match against the Galaxy.
“I didn’t look at the goal, to be honest, and as a striker, you’ve got to know where the goal is,” Mattocks told reporters after the match. “It was a very tight angle, to be honest. It reminds me of my rookie season back in Toronto, where I scored one similar, but this one was more difficult, and it was really great to see that go in.”
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The 67th-minute goal was important, as it brought his side back on level terms with a Galaxy side that looked comfortable for large chunks of the match for the first hour.
Then when Robbie Keane put the visitors ahead, Mattocks again played a role in the game-tying goal, cutting back a pass to the top of the area for Kekuta Manneh to score a screamer from the edge of the area in the 86th minute. It was the second such time this season Mattocks set up Manneh for a late equalizer.
“We showed guts,” Mattocks said of the result. “I think we’ve really got to give the team the credit. Determination and work ethic were really good by the team.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.