It's only been two matches into this young 2013 MLS season, but Darren Mattocks hasn't exactly lit the world on fire. He hasn't managed to score a goal yet, and his last match against the Columbus Crew had many wondering where the magic was. Not only that, but I would argue that the Columbus match was the first time Mattocks had ever looked overmatched, even lost at times.
It was a rare occurrence for a player that dripped swagger and confidence the previous season. Not only does Mattocks have just one point, he has yet to record a shot on goal, and has just two shots in total. For a team deep up front, with guys aching to get minutes in, these aren't exactly inspiring stats.
That being said, is it truly time to worry about the young Jamaican?
I'll start out by saying, of course not. It's been two matches; he's got plenty of time to turn it around. Some players need a few matches out of the gate to get warmed up, and I suspect Mattocks is one of them. This is the first time he's gone into an MLS season as 'the' guy, so it might take some getting used to for him. I'm not worried. However, this blog is about discussion, so let's discuss.
The Vancouver Whitecaps have played two home matches this season. As Marc Weber from The Province pointed out on twitter today, guess how many home matches Mattocks scored in last season; one. A two goal outburst against the Houston Dynamo on June 6th, 2012.
So what does that mean? First off, it's a small comfort to Whitecaps fans and management, because they can point to a pattern and figure out a strategy to correct it, assuming of course that the trend will continue. At the same time, it has to be a tad troubling to see a player with so much talent struggle so heavily at home. Why does Mattocks thrive on the road and stumble in the confines of BC Place?
Usually it's the other way around for athletes. Home pitch is supposed to be an advantage, a castle that you're supposed to defend. The players don't have to travel, get more rest, visit family and friends, and commute to the match with relative ease. When the match starts, they have the great crowd at BC Place firmly behind them, pushing them forward with their passion. It's the complete opposite on the road, when you have less rest, your family is probably at home, you're playing on a pitch that you're not used to, and you have to deal with the boo's and verbal abuse from the hometown crowd.
So what do you think? Does Mattocks just feed off negative energy? Does he get his jollies silencing rabid football fans? Or is the stat just one, big coincidence?
You could also point at the Houston match as Mattocks' coming out party. It would make sense then that he would be a marked man for a poor offensive squad, meaning he was more closely guarded than before in the following matches.
Or, as tweeter @EnnioMartino posted, "away games-team will play safe and defend-Mattocks speed effective on the counter?" This makes a lot of sense, and I truly wish I could take credit for it.
What do you think? The best response gets props from me. Which will literally be me replying to the best post with the word, "props."