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The Curious Case of Darren Mattocks

The mercurial striker's time in Vancouver came to an end this weekend.

Too much of this, not enough goals for Mattocks in Vancouver.
Too much of this, not enough goals for Mattocks in Vancouver.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Update: The Whitecaps Made the news official Monday, trading Darren Mattocks to Portland for general allocation money, targeted allocation money, and an international roster spot for 2017.

Darren Mattocks' time in Vancouver is (unofficially) over, with a report from a Jamaican news outlet later confirmed by The Province claiming that the mercurial striker has been traded to the Portland Timbers.  The long rumored move will see Mattocks reunited with his college coach Caleb Porter and several ex-teammates.  It ends a turbulent time in Vancouver for Mattocks, a four year run that saw far more lows than highs.  From a promising rookie year to a declaration of twenty goals in his sophomore campaign, Mattocks never regained the confidence and finishing ability that made him such an exciting prospect just four short years ago.

In hindsight, it's quite fitting that Mattocks' time in Vancouver began with fans being baffled.  Leading up to the SuperDraft, it was expected that the expansion Montreal Impact would select the University of Akron striker, instead they selected striker turned midfielder turned right back Andrew Wenger.  That left the 'Caps to select the Jamaican forward with an incredible goal scoring record in college, where he posted 39 goals in 47 appearances.  He made his debut in the season opener, a win against the expansion Impact.  Then came a confusing and scary incident that left him with a serious burn and on the sidelines until May, where he returned in Voyageurs Cup action and recorded his first professional goal.  More appearances and goals followed including the ridiculous leap in Toronto, culminating in a start in the first playoff game in MLS history for Vancouver where he scored the teams only goal.

Whitecaps fans and Mattocks himself had reason to be excited entering the 2013 season.  He was fresh off a strong rookie season and with the promise of twenty goals on record, 'Caps fans expected the second year striker to lead the line en route to another playoff appearance.  A wonderful goal in the seasons third match in Houston opened Mattocks' account on the year, but that's as good as it got in 2013.  Scoring just two more times that year, Mattocks saw himself passed by Camilo, Kenny Miller and rookie Kekuta Manneh on the depth chart over the course of the season.  Gone were the great feats of athleticism, replaced by hands on hips and a head facing the sky.  Then came that interview.

In a now infamous interview with a Jamaican television station following his second season, Mattocks went off on his former coach and current club, stating that the club turned down a 1.2 million dollar offer inside MLS as well as multiple offers from England.  Going full Zlatan (minus the scoring, unfortunately) he repeatedly referred to himself in third person and seemingly burned any bridge that was left between him and Vancouver.  That may have been the case, if not for an even worse thing done by a different Whitecaps striker that off season.

With Martin Rennie and the golden boot winner gone, and with striker-whisperer Carl Robinson in place as manager, there was renewed hope entering 2014 that Mattocks could regain the form he had in his rookie year and once again be a scoring threat for the Whitecaps.  While his scoring total and minutes doubled, the attitude on the pitch did not improve.  Despite Kenny Miller leaving by the summer, Mattocks did little to grab the opportunity, once more getting passed over, this time by Erik Hurtado.  All the while a subject of trade rumours, Mattocks was still in Vancouver come seasons end, another disappointing campaign in the books.

Entering 2015, a suddenly viable Erik Hurtado and new designated player Octavio Rivero had Whitecaps fans thinking the time had finally come for Mattocks to move on.  More trade rumors and a hot start for Rivero, but still, Mattocks remained.  While his effort on the pitch improved, the numbers did not.  Limited to substitute appearances mostly out wide, he was all but out of the squad by the time the Gold Cup and Copa America rolled around.  Right around the time Mattocks joined up with the Reggae Boyz, Rivero's hot start began to cool off and Robinson's 4-2-3-1 formation faced more criticism.  A very successful summer on international duty saw Mattocks return to Vancouver on a good run of form, but it failed to translate to the Whitecaps.

After a summer of goals with Jamaica, could Darren Mattocks have finally lived up to potential if he was given the chance to play alongside Rivero during the seasons second half?  Games like NYCFC and the two FC Dallas matches left this supporter thinking so, but it looks as though 'Caps fans will never get their answer.  Mattocks was given more than his fair shot at becoming a star in Vancouver, but be it attitude or formation it just never worked out.

It shouldn't surprise Whitecaps supporters if Mattocks posts double digit goals at some point for the Timbers; he has all the talent you could hope for, it just never came together for him in Vancouver.  At the end of the day, he leaves the Whitecaps sitting on nineteen goals for the club - that shouldn't surprise fans either; he never was one to hit goals.