Jamaica Gleaner / Phoenix Academy director Craig Butler is expecting to dramatically improve Daren Mattocks’ game, after the national striker joined his training programme in preparation for the upcoming Major League Soccer (MLS) season.
Mattocks will be joining up with his new MLS club – DC United, next month and is trusting Butler to improve his technique and sharpness as he gets ready for his new challenge.
Butler and his Phoenix Academy system is of course responsible for the rising career of Bayer Leverkusen star Leon Bailey.
“Craig and I are very good friends and he is running the Phoenix programme that has developed Leon Bailey and Kyle Butler, and also many others, so while in my off season, it is the right place to go,” Mattocks told The Gleaner after yesterday morning’s training session at Drewsland Stadium.
“The off season is used to slowly get back fitness, so right now, I am working out with Craig Butler and his Phoenix Academy players and it is going good,” Mattocks added.
Full of praise
Meanwhile, Butler was full of praise for Mattocks – making special reference to his work ethic, while promising that he can make the striker much better than he currently is.
“I can make him (Mattocks) into 10 times a better player than what he is. He has the right work ethic, so I can make him a much better player,” Butler boasted.
Mattocks also spoke about his latest move in the MLS, where he has played professionally since 2012.
“This was my final contract year and me and Portland did not reach an agreement in terms of salary. The MLS system is based on salary cap, some players’ salary are a bit too high at some clubs and that would take them past the salaries cap,” he explained.
“The club (Portland Timbers) and I did not leave on any bad terms, and DC United was willing to pay what was on my contract, so I was traded there. The deal is for one season,” Mattocks said.
“Hopefully, this will be my breakout year in terms of scoring a bunch of goals. I know I am capable of doing that, so with a new environment, new city, new lifestyle, we will see what happens from there,” he shared.
“I have played against DC in the past and I know the coach (Ben Olsen). He is a very good coach. We spoke a couple times, via text messages and phone calls. Ben and the club are very excited to have me there, and I am very excited to go to DC. I will report to preseason on January 22,” Mattocks also said.
Mattocks started his MLS career with the Vancouver Whitecaps and was second overall in the 2012 MLS Super Draft. After scoring seven goals in his rookie season, he topped the 2012 MLS Top 24 Under 24 list.
He appeared in 93 games, scored 19 goals and recording six assists in five seasons with the Whitecaps. The Portmore, Jamaica native made history by scoring the first MLS Cup play-off goal for the 2011 expansion team against the Los Angeles Galaxy on November 1, 2012.
On the international stage, Mattocks made his debut for the Reggae Boyz in a 2-0 win against El Salvador in an international friendly on August 16, 2012. He has scored 14 goals in 42 appearances for Jamaica and most recently appeared in all six of their Gold Cup 2017 games, including the final against the US men’s national team.
Mattocks scored three times in the tournament.