Coming of age

Youngsters Mattocks, Salgado impress in Seattle draw

Mattocks Seattle

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The prevailing mood in the Vancouver Whitecaps FC dressing room after their 2-2 draw with Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday was one of disappointment. How else could they feel after Fredy Montero’s curling 90th-minute effort robbed them of a Cascadia derby win?

But though the present is a little discouraging, it’s hard to think that the future won’t be bright for Vancouver after the performances of young forwards Darren Mattocks (above) and Omar Salgado, who led the Whitecaps FC attack, while Eric Hassli and Camilo Sanvezzo rested in preparation for Wednesday’s Amway Canadian Championship final, second leg (5 p.m. PT, Sportsnet One, TEAM 1410 radio).

“Darren Mattocks was fantastic,” head coach Martin Rennie told reporters after Saturday’s match. “His movement – He was so sharp. He got in great positions, an obvious area he has to improve upon. He caused them all sorts of problems, as did Omar on the other side.

"You have to give guys a chance to show they’re up to the level and I think those guys absolutely showed they are, and I think they showed they’re going to be exciting for the Whitecaps over time.”

For Mattocks, it was his first start in league play, and while he missed several clear-cut opportunities, he stretched Seattle’s backline and got in behind defenders on several occasions.

While he acknowledged that he missed opportunities during the match, he was encouraged by his overall performance and said his misses weren’t down to first-start jitters.

“It’s weird, I never get nervous,” the Jamaican said. “I’m always excited, but at the same time, I’m always humble and I know I have to put in a good shift for my teammates.

“Seattle is a very good team, one of the elite teams in MLS, and for myself to create so many chances, not only for myself but for my teammates, that’s really good. I think we’re right at par with the best teams in MLS, so we just have to move forward from here and see what next week brings in Toronto.”

With so many big games over the past few weeks, between Cascadia Cup and Canadian Championship matches, that can only help the club’s two promising youngsters accelerate their development.

“It’s really a lot of experience for us,” Salgado said. “For the players that have that experience, they come in knowing what to do in these games, and they’re amazing games to play in.”

Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.