VANCOUVER, BC – As Vancouver Whitecaps FC prepare to take on Colorado Rapids on the road at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday, they could have the option of playing striker Darren Mattocks for the first time in a month.
The Jamaican speedster picked up a knock to his right knee in a brief two-minute appearance as a substitute in a 3-1 win over the Chicago Fire on July 14, and he's been out of action ever since.
On July 25, Mattocks underwent minor knee surgery on his right meniscus, but this week during a training session, didn't seem to show signs of slowing down as a result.
“He was fantastic today,” head coach Martin Rennie said of Mattocks' this week after a training session at the University of British Columbia. “That's probably the best training session he's ever had. Amazing.”
While meniscus surgery is generally considered minor, for Whitecaps fans the word probably had some worried, given what happened with former Vancouver striker Atiba Harris during his two injury-riddled years with the club. With the 'Caps in 2011 and 2012, the forward underwent three surgeries on his meniscus and never seemed to get over the problem until moving on to the Rapids in the off-season.
In the early stages of Mattocks' recovery, things don't look so dire.
“My knee's feeling pretty good, as if I didn't do surgery,” Mattocks said this week. “So that's really good. I'm not forcing myself to go play, because we still have a couple of months of the season. But talking to the trainers and the coaching staff, from what they've been telling me, I think I'm ready to go.”
But as Miller played – and scored – for Scotland midweek in a 3-2 loss to England at Wembley Stadium, it's unclear whether Rennie will play his countryman for a full 90 minutes.
That could open the door for Mattocks' return to the pitch as he looks to salvage what has been a trying sophomore season during the final 11 games of the campaign.
“Even the best players in the world go through tough times so I am no exception,” Mattocks said. “I just have to come back, be confident, do what I have been doing – working hard – and when I get my chance, take it.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.