Darren Mattocks’ two goals made the difference Sunday afternoon at BC Place, but there's no denying speedy Jamaican had a helping hand – an eye-opening performance from 20-year-old midfielder Gershon Koffie proved the perfect complement to Mattocks' strong showing in the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 3-1 victory over Houston Dynamo.
The Ghanaian, known mainly as a midfield destroyer in 2011, has always shown a willingness to surge forward and attempt shots from anywhere in the opposing half, but against the Dynamo it was his ability to find players – often Mattocks – with killer passes in behind the backline that stood out.
“He won a lot of second balls,” Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie told reporters following the match. “He was good in possession. He was athletic and powerful, but he also played great balls in behind. I think he had two assists today and put in Darren Mattocks through a couple of other times as well.”
Rennie went on to describe the performance as perhaps Koffie’s best in a Whitecaps FC jersey – certainly his most complete all-around match.
“There’s been a couple of other games where he’s played well in spells, but that’s probably the most consistent 90 minutes overall,” Rennie said. “He wasn’t the only one, but I thought at times, he was excellent.”
Still, Koffie’s fine performance from the middle did get more than a little help from Mattocks up top. The Jamaican gave Houston’s makeshift backline fits (several players were missing due to international duty) and that opened up room for Koffie and Davide Chiumiento to operate centrally.
“With his qualities, he’s so fast – he can score a lot of goals,” Chiumiento told MLSsoccer.com following the match of Mattocks. “All the defenders now – they start to be scared. If they really drop because they are scared of balls behind, we have a lot of space between the lines, and if they come up, we can play in behind, so it gives us two different solutions.”
Koffie explained to reporters that he has a good understanding with Mattocks and it was that chemistry that ultimately made the difference.
“I always talk to him on and off practice,” Koffie said of his relationship with Mattocks. “I know he can run fast, so I always tell him, ‘You don’t always have to come for the ball, just keeping running behind the defenders.’ So we talk a lot at practice.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.