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Three Questions with Vancouver Whitecaps blog Eighty Six Forever

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Vancouver Whitecaps blogger Jon Szekeres of SB Nation blog Eighty Six Forever took some time to answer questions ahead of Saturday's match. We talk Mattocks, Cascadia and rivalries, and RSL perception.

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1) Darren Mattocks is a bit of an enigma it seems. He seems to have resurfaced and is having a strong year. What are your thoughts on Mattocks' potential, the year he is having, and his longevity with Vancouver?

Effort in training was an issue for Mattocks previously, and that seems to be put to bed now.

It's funny, when he did that ridiculous interview in the off-season, I thought for sure he would be gone. It reeked of arrogance, and given the bad season he had put forward in 2013, I figured they'd cut him loose. Instead, Carl Robinson has worked with him, and apparently gotten through to him. Effort in training was an issue for Mattocks previously, and that seems to be put to bed now. He wasn't working hard enough in matches; along with Kenny Miller, they've been relentless on the pitch this season, and he's finally getting some stats to reflect his hard work. He has points in four of the first seven matches of the season, including 2 goals, and has become a mainstay in the striker position.

So, if Mattocks has indeed matured, then I'm excited for his 2014 season. At 23 years old, the sky is the freaking limit for this kid, and he has all the tools to be successful not only in MLS, but perhaps one day in Europe.

2) How much do the Vancouver fans buy into the Cascadia rivalry? Which team or teams are the biggest rivals for Vancouver?

To an extent, I think we do. The atmosphere tends to be different for a match against the Sounders, what with the huge fan support and all. They're definitely on the rivalry list, although, and it might just be me, I don't get that same feeling for a Timbers match-up. Other than that, there's an inherent rivalry with Toronto FC, and I'd say that's the biggest one.

3) What is the perception of RSL to the Whitecaps' fans and organization? What player or players do they respect most?

I think in the last few years, RSL has established itself as an elite team in the Western Conference, although that's easy enough to say when you make it all the way to the MLS final. If I had to name one player on RSL I really enjoy watching, it has to be Nick Rimando. Is this guy a robot or something? It's hard to believe he's playing that well at the age of 34, he really is fun to watch.