The Vancouver Whitecaps have a ways to go before they can hang with the heavyweights of North American soccer, though they took a significant step up with the addition of Darren Mattocks with the No. 2 pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
The sophomore out of Akron was arguably the most complete player in this year's draft class—a speedy striker with the confidence and know-how to wreak havoc all over the pitch. He'll be reunited with former UA teammate Michael Nanchoff, whom Vancouver selected with the eighth overall pick in last year's draft and with whom Mattocks lifted the Zips to a NCAA championship in 2010.
Mattocks was the 2011 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year and a semifinalist for the 2011 Hermann Trophy (the Heisman of college soccer) after finishing second in the NCAA with 21 goals on the season.
That sort of scoring prowess will come in handy for a Whitecaps club that ended the year with a minus-20 goal differential, by far the worst in the Western Conference.
Will Darren Mattocks be a success as a rookie?
Of course, 2011 campaign was Vancouver's inaugural season as an MLS squad. A record of 6-10-18 isn't exactly anything to write home about, but Mattocks' presence should help the Whitecaps improve to some level of respectability in the league.
The Whitecaps had two players—Camilo and Eric Hassli—finish in the top 15 in MLS in goals, even though the club as a whole ranked dead last in scoring with 35 (on the fewest shots on goal in the league as well).
Mattocks gives Vancouver a third scoring threat right out of the gate, as someone who can create for himself while also setting up his teammates.
And despite his Jamaican heritage, Mattocks should be well prepared to cope with the cooler temperatures north of the border. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Mattocks originally chose to attend Akron in part to better acclimate himself to less favorable weather conditions.
As for winning conditions, Mattocks may also have to get used to losing quite a bit more than he did as a collegian, though, with any luck, he'll have the Whitecaps on the road to MLS respectability in short order.