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Tactical Spotlight: Defending Richards and Mattocks

27 July 12:46 pm

Tactical Spotlight: Defending Richards and Mattocks

By Sam Stejskal

News Photo: Dane Richards of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC kisses…

Real Salt Lake’s back four is going to have their hands full with Vancouver attackers Dane Richards and Darren Mattocks at Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday night.

Mattocks and Richards are both blazing fast, capable of flying down the flanks and terrorizing opposing fullbacks.  The Jamaican internationals have both had success in recent games, with the recently-acquired Richards scoring the opener in the Whitecaps’ 2-1 win over league-leading San Jose last Sunday and Mattocks bagging two goals – including this incredible high-flying finish – against Toronto on July 11.

The No. 2 overall pick in this year’s SuperDraft, Mattocks leads Vancouver with six goals in just 12 MLS games. Richards – who was acquired from New York earlier this month – has two goals and two assists in 20 league appearances in 2012.

RSL head scout Andy Williams is very familiar with both players, playing with Richards numerous times on the Jamaican national team and following Mattocks closely since the talented rookie’s college days.

“As everyone knows, both of them are really, really fast,” Williams told RealSaltLake.com. “I think Dane is more of a winger and Mattocks is more of a forward who finishes pretty well – his goal scoring record is pretty good. Dane has a lot more experience so I’m pretty sure our guys are used to Dane more than Mattocks. Hopefully tonight we can keep them both contained, because Vancouver really likes to use their speed a lot.”

RSL’s outside backs will be responsible for checking Richards, who – as Williams mentioned – plays as a winger. It will be important for the Claret-and-Cobalt’s fullbacks to keep Richards honest, pushing forward when possible in order to force Richards – who isn’t a very good defender – back into Vancouver’s half.  

“The thing with both of them is that they’re not great defenders,” Williams said. “So if our outside backs attack they have to follow. If our fullbacks stay home then you run the risk of both of them staying in behind or getting in on goal.”

Mattocks is a bit of a different animal. He plays more centrally than Richards and will primarily matchup against RSL’s center backs and defensive midfielder. The Claret-and-Cobalt will need to be aware of his darting runs behind the defense and not allow him to turn while on the ball so he can run at goal.

“The center backs will have their hands full,” Williams said, “but I think they’ll match Mattocks."