Think Darren Mattocks and the term ‘outspoken’ will often be found in his midst. A confident player, who sometimes falls into the realm of cocky, his explosion onto Major League Soccer started as soon as he was overlooked by the Montreal Impact in the 2012 MLS Superdraft.
“They didn’t choose me No. 1 [in the SuperDraft] and I showed them they made a mistake,” the Jamaican striker told mlssoccer.com after his strike against the Impact in February 2012.
An unquestioned talent, the early emergence of his self-confidence would once again rear it’s head last season. With a confident swagger only few can carry off, Darren Mattocks began to speak. This was a public airing of the gospel according to Darren on Jamaican TV, and one that pulled few punches.
“When Darren led the team as a rookie, Vancouver made the playoffs, right?” Mattocks said, modestly referring to himself in the third person. “My second season, coach have me upon the bench a majority of the season – me and him couldn’t agree. The player who lead MLS in scoring [Camilo] play for Vancouver – how come them [miss] the playoffs? So you read between the lines.”
In a surreal public appearance, the Jamaican openly spoke of potential suitors. He claimed that “every other team in MLS” wanted him playing forward. Regardless of how valid his statement was, word of his comment quickly filtered back to Vancouver.
Releasing a statement shortly after the event, club president Bob Lenarduzzi said: “Vancouver Whitecaps FC have not lost faith in striker Darren Mattocks; however, the club does not tolerate the type of behavior he displayed on a Jamaican TV show earlier this week.”
The situation certainly seemed to have an impact on the youngster: “I need to take a hard look at myself,” he tweeted. “I will use [the] offseason to improve on & off the field to be a positive player, teammate and member of Whitecaps FC and the city of Vancouver.”
It’s a promise he seems to be intent on delivering upon. Although his goalscoring form sits at a modest 2 goals in 7 games, there is a far more intriguing statistic surrounding the 23-year-old. For the first time in his young career, Mattocks was playing his seventh game in a row.
Speculation over his future will never dampen, even if that is due to the man himself fanning the flames. However after losing Camilo in the off-season, Vancouver need a new figurehead, and Mattocks could be just that man.
Working under the guidance of Carl Robinson, who has a suitably better relationship with than previous manager Martin Rennie, many have cited the coaching changing as the catalyst to Mattocks’ bright moments in the league this season.
Netting an opportunist finish against LA Galaxy at the weekend, the 23-year-old also provided the assist for young Kekuta Manneh. What the pair lack in experience they more than make up for in dynamism and explosiveness. After narrowly missing out on the MLS playoffs last season, the Whitecaps are showing genuine progression from last season.
As for Mattocks, the chance for personal development comes with the knowledge that could lead him onto the path of European soccer. Firing Vancouver into the playoffs could serve as the precursor to accomplishing his European ambitions, at which point he may finally have justified referring to himself in third person.