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Matt Pickens Named Major League Soccer Player of the Month

By Todd McClamroch in News on Oct 4, 2006 2:37PM

10_04_06_matt_pickens.jpgMajor League Soccer selected Chicago Fire goalkeeper Matt Pickens as the Player of the Month for September. Pickens is the first Chicago Fire player to earn that honor during the 2006 season. When starting goalkeeper Zach Thornton injured his quadricep, Matt Pickens answered the call, getting his first MLS start of 2006 on September 3 in a game that had the Fire defeating the N.Y. Red Bulls 2-1. Matt Pickens was rewarded by Major League Soccer for stepping in and helping the Fire to a 4-2-0 record in September while recording an 89.5 saves percentage, the best in MLS.

In addition to Pickens' MLS regular season play, he helped the Chicago Fire win four straight matches en route to the U.S. Open Cup title. Pickens let in only two goals during the Open Cup and shut out both the Kansas City Wizards and DC United.

The question is: will Chicago Fire coach Dave Sarachan return Zach Thornton to the net now that his quadricep is healing, or will he stick with the hot hand? When Chicago Fire fans on the Chicago Fire fan forum were asked who should finish the season in goal, an overwhelming 82% preferred Matt Pickens. Chicagoist agrees that Pickens should be the starter for the rest of the season. We made up our minds when the Fire played their first of two matches with the L.A. Galaxy in September. In a hotly contested match, Pickens came up huge with 10 saves, several of which were one-on-one situations. Pickens made quick reactions and showed his speed and flexibility.

The only concern for Pickens is his lack of experience, having only played in 11 Major League Soccer matches. Though, lack of experience is no reason to bench a goalkeeper who is playing with such confidence. Chicagoist feels the starting goalkeeper spot should be Pickens' to lose. For now Chicagoist is stickin' with Pickens.