VANCOUVER, B.C. – 2015 was a stellar year for Vancouver Whitecaps' Darren Mattocks on the international stage, with his goals helping Jamaica reach the Gold Cup final and advance to the next round of World Cup qualifying.
It was a different story for Mattocks back at club level with the Vancouver Whitecaps, where his minutes were limited and his goalscoring form with Jamaica seemed to desert him. He scored just three times for the 'Caps last season.
"The goals haven't been coming for me as I wanted to for Vancouver," Mattocks admitted to media at the Whitecaps' preseason training camp on Wednesday. "One of the things that I look back on last season is, how can I transfer my national team goalscoring into club goalscoring? I think I'm slowly figuring it that out. So hopefully once I get that rectified, it should be a good season."
His time away with the national team, which saw him miss a large chunk of the early summer, didn't help his cause.
The addition of Octavio Rivero had already seen the Jamaican forced to play a substitute's role, and he made only nine starts in his 22 appearances. That's tough for any player, but the situation prompted Mattocks to reflect over the past couple of months.
"I haven't been used to being on the bench much throughout my career," Mattocks mused. "That was something that was new to me. So I've spent the last couple of months in the offseason really putting things into perspective that if I go away with Jamaica and I come back, what I need to do to get in the team and once I'm in the team, to stay in the team."
But despite his rich vein of form at international level, Mattocks was keenly aware that he couldn't just walk back into Vancouver's starting XI.
"Even though I was scoring on a regular basis for Jamaica, once a team is winning, he's not going to change a winning formula," Mattocks said of Vancouver coach Carl Robinson's team selection. "Of course I would love to get more playing time, but you've got to put the team first. And once the team is winning, you've got to understand your role."
Mattocks might find it even tougher to break into that Vancouver starting lineup this coming season after the Whitecaps added Japanese striker Masato Kudo to try and solve their goalscoring woes.
As things currently stand, it's hard not to see the Jamaican as Robinson's third choice option up front in a one-forward system, but Mattocks is embracing the challenge.
"All good players welcome competition," Mattocks asserted. "That's going to bring the best out of you. Of course it's going to be tougher to get playing time and minutes, but once it's going to help your game in the long run then that's something that you have to give Carl high praise."
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Mattocks is about to enter his fifth season as a Whitecap, now something of a veteran on Robinson's young side, and no Vancouver player has seemed to garner more transfer rumors than the Jamaican these last couple of years.
Whenever the 'Caps are linked with a transfer within MLS or making moves on draft day, Mattocks' name seems to crop up as the trade bait Vancouver may put in return, despite Robinson reiterating he is still very much part of his plans. The addition of Kudo ramped that talk up further.
Mattocks is fully aware of the rumors, but hasn't allowed them to affect him.
"I hear it all the time, I see it all the time, but it never really unsettles me," Mattocks said. "This is MLS. Players get traded all the time, but once I'm in Vancouver, my mind is solely on Vancouver. Helping Vancouver through the preseason, helping Vancouver during the season. All my focus is on Vancouver."