Tuesday, May 6, 2008

QPR's Matt Pickens Looks Back on His Season and on Staying at QPR

Chicago Tribune/Luis Arroyave - Ex-Fire goalie Pickens wraps up season in England
On a freezing afternoon in December, Matt Pickens sat inside a restaurant in the West Loop discussing his upcoming season with the Fire. He talked about his chances of being named team captain and he mentioned he was trying to get more teammates to train at Toyota Park in the off-season.
Sure, Pickens still hadn't re-signed with the team at that point, but he was confident he would be signing soon.
That day never came.
Pickens instead signed with England's Queens Park Rangers in February.
"I thought I would be with the Fire," Pickens said. "But I got a good offer from Europe. Offers from Europe don't come often. If I didn't get any offers from Europe, I would [have been] in a Fire jersey this weekend."
Pickens was training with the U.S. national team in January but left camp early to train with Norwich City and then Preston North End—also of the Football League Championship. According to Pickens, both clubs later made him an offer, but not until he was already set to sign with QPR.
The Fire made one final offer the night before January's draft. As he did before the 2007 season when the Fire tried to extend his contract, Pickens declined.
"It was generous," Pickens said of the offer. "I respected that and I told them that. But I had to live a dream."
QPR's season ended Sunday, with the Rangers finishing 14th out of 24 clubs. Pickens was unable to crack the starting lineup in his time with QPR but played three reserve games with the club. He missed the final three weeks of the season after suffering a separated shoulder in practice.
"I knew I would come in as the No. 2 guy," Pickens said. "I was perfectly fine with that. I didn't expect to start.
"I think I played well, but I still haven't proven myself."
Would he like to return to QPR next season?
"I hope so," responded Pickens, whose contract ended after the season. "I think I can play at that level, but we'll see what happens." Chicago Tribune

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