Mattocks set for MLS return
Gordon Williams, Gleaner Writer
A rookie is back, a veteran definitely out. And while some Jamaican players in Major League Soccer (MLS) will hit the road for their next MLS game, at least a couple will welcome competing at home for the first time this season.
Forward Darren Mattocks returns from injury today for Vancouver Whitecaps against New England Revolution, the first time in seven weeks the highly regarded rookie will suit up for MLS action after sustaining burns in March.
Mattocks came on as a substitute and scored his first professional goal for Vancouver on Wednesday. But that was in a Canadian championship semi-final tie against a lower-tier club, not in MLS - North America's premier football league.
Mattocks has played only a minute in MLS due to injury, but the 21-year-old's confidence has not dimmed.
"You can expect a couple more goals," he said on Thursday.
Vancouver need them. Despite a solid start, including a current three-game winning streak and sitting fourth in MLS' nine-team Western Conference (WC) with five wins, two losses and two draws, the club has scored only nine goals in nine games.
With injured national striker Omar Cummings out at least for the next match on May 16 at DC United, Colorado Rapids will miss goalscoring quality. The 29-year-old, in his sixth MLS season, could be inactive up to four weeks with a grade two ankle sprain suffered Sunday against FC Dallas. He won't force a return.
"No need to rush," said Cummings, who started the first 10 games scoring three goals.
Colorado, with Reggae Boy Tyrone Marshall who started against FC Dallas, are fifth in the WC with five wins and five losses.
Still no goals for Jamaica midfielder Dane Richards, although Wednesday his New York Red Bulls won their third straight - all by a 1-0 margin - against Houston Dynamo.
Like Cummings, Richards has one assist, but the speedy midfielder hasn't scored in 2012 after seven strikes last season. New York, second in the 10-team Eastern Conference (EC) with a record of 6-3-1, play at Philadelphia Union tomorrow.
Today slumping Houston Dynamo, now 2-3-2 and seventh in the EC, host DC United at the new BBVA Compass Stadium. For Houston's Jamaican pair of Jermaine Taylor and Je-Vaughn Watson, it will be their first home game of 2012. Taylor played the full 90 minutes against New York, but Watson saw no action.
Montreal Impact (3-5-2), with Reggae Boyz Donovan Ricketts and Shavar Thomas, hope to rebound today at home against MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy.
On Wednesday Montreal were booted from the Canadian championship by Toronto FC, which have no points in MLS, on a record eight-game losing streak to start a season and sit last in the EC. Goalkeeper Ricketts, a former Galaxy starter, played the entire game but conceded a goal to national teammate Ryan Johnson in the 2-0 loss. Defender Thomas started but was subbed in the 45th minute.
Last weekend Columbus Crew and Portland Timbers drew 0-0. Reggae Boy Lovel Palmer cemented his starting spot with Portland, playing the full 90 minutes, but national teammate Shaun Francis didn't, restricted to a six-minute sub's appearance. Columbus (2-4-2) are eighth in the EC. Portland (2-5-2) are last in the WC.
Today, Columbus host FC Dallas. Portland play at Palmer's ex-club Houston on May 15.
Meanwhile, Jamaica-born head coach Robin Fraser, his struggling Chivas USA stuck just above Portland in the WC with three wins and five losses, play tomorrow at San José Earthquakes (7-2-1), second in the conference.
Jamaican connections, in midfielders Khari Stephenson and Simon Dawkins, have been key in San José's strong start. Both players have scored. Stephenson also has two assists, the English-born Dawkins one as San José have scored 21 goals, the most in MLS. Ryan Smith of Chivas, another English-born player with Jamaican roots, has two assists.