Since bursting onto the international scene Darren Mattocks has been an enigmatic figure in Jamaican football conversations, sometimes looking the part of the Reggae Boyz’s best striker, and at others struggling to make an impact on games.
But what can’t be argued is the tremendous potential which the speedy forward holds. Potential which could be in the process of being fully realized.
After a promising start to his professional career following two stunning years at the University of Akron where he scored 39 goals in 42 appearances, Mattocks’ professional career has been a bit of a roller coaster ride.
After being drafted with the second overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft by the Vancouver Whitecaps, his first professional season in Canada saw him scoring a team-leading 7 goals (6 in his first nine appearances), including the club’s first ever in the MLS playoffs.
Many thought this was just a glimpse of what is to come for Mattocks. However, until this season that tally stood as the highest of his six-year MLS career that has seen him score a total of 24 goals (19 for the Caps).
The Reggae Boy currently stands on 7 goals in 11 games (846 minutes), which is ranked tied for 6th most this season with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Vela. In his first season at DC United, it has taken him 454 minutes less than it took him to reach his season-high total in goals.
And with all of 23 games left to go and with the addition of Wayne Rooney, barring injury, Mattocks is poised to reach his ambitious target of 20 goals this season or at worst double figures in goals for the first time in his MLS career.
The former Bridgeport High School star’s resurgence is one he hopes to continue as he settles into the prime of his career.
After three sub-par seasons in Vancouver, in which he scored a total of 19 goals, he was traded to the then MLS champions Portland Timbers where he endured two injury-hit seasons, scoring only 5 total goals before finally securing a move to the US capital in December of last year.
While DC United is rooted at the foot of the Eastern Conference table with an MLS worst 10 points so far, Mattocks’ contribution has been important for the cause.
He has contributed over one-third of the club’s 19 goals so far this season. His goals per 90 minutes average of 0.74 is ranked 8th in the league out of the 36 players with 5 goals or more.
He currently holds an average of 1 goal every 121 minutes.
Even more impressive is the Jamaican’s accuracy in front of goal. The former Waterhouse FC youth product has scored his 7 goals from just 13 shots on target (tied second lowest of all 14 players with 7 or more goals).
His 13 shots on target also demonstrate his improved accuracy considering it is just under 50% of his 27 total shots, the second-lowest total shot tally of the same 14 players with 7 or more goals.
With the CONCACAF Nations Leagues qualifiers beginning in September set to serve as qualification for next year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup as well as determining which tier of the Nations League the Reggae Boyz take part in, Mattocks’ form could be crucial to the team’s success.
Between Mattocks’ unquestionable work rate and the beginnings of a cohesive partnership between himself and Atlanta United’s Romario Williams, which was on display during the country’s second-place finish at last year’s Gold Cup, there is hope that the foundation of a much more potent attack and greater output for the Reggae Boyz in these crucial international games is now set.
*Photo credit: Sean M. Haffey – Getty Images North America
*All stats from mlssoccer.com.