PORTLAND, Ore.—Two hard-won assists from winger Darren Mattocks led to three big points for the Portland Timbers, as the defending MLS Cup champions continue to climb in the Western Conference standings.
Playing on the left flank, and matched against rookie right back Keegan Rosenberry, Mattocks was able to use his speed, size and skill to full effect in Saturday's 2-1 victory over the Philadephia Union – his first full-90 effort since June 2015, when Mattocks was still with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Mattocks had a one-word answer for how he felt afterward: "Tired." His teammates appreciated the hard work.
"I think he was confident today," said midfielder Diego Valeri, the beneficiary of Mattocks' first assist in the 46th minute. "He was very alive on that flank. We knew that if we could get him 1-on-1 against the right back, he can beat him every single time. He has pace and he is very dynamic."
Just after play resumed following a scoreless first half, Mattocks ran down a deflection on the end line, spun inside on Rosenberry and centered to Valeri for a close-range finish.
"If you look at the first goal, it all comes from his work rate and sticking with it," said Timbers coach Caleb Porter. "That is part of his game: the intangibles and the defending. I feel like right now we have 11 guys who are all attacking and 11 guys who are all defending. There were some games this year where we didn't have that."
For the Jamaican international, hard defensive work in the attacking third is key to his offensive success.
"I didn't give up on the play, and that just goes to show that your defensive work does translate into offensive chances," said Mattocks, whose club moved up one spot into fifth place in the West. "That was a perfect example in the two goals scored tonight."
After Chris Pontius answered with a quick equalizer in the 47th for the visitors, Mattocks won the ball from Rosenberry in Philadelphia's end, drove into the penalty area, worked an opening against the rookie and slotted the ball to Fanendo Adi for the 53rd-minute match-winner.
Mattocks nearly added a goal in second-half stoppage time, only to be denied by fellow Jamaican international Andre Blake. He acknowledged that scoring would have been icing on Saturday's cake – but added, "A win is a win."