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Saturday, February 09, 2008

" Pickens Heads to England to Live Out A Dream"....Bolder and Walton on Their Movesv....Southend Horror, One Year Ago

Kathryn L Knapp -Chicagoland Soccer NewsMatt Pickens Heads to England to Live Out A Dream
If you have an opportunity to make your dreams come true, you have to take it while you’ve got it. That’s exactly what former Fire goalkeeper Matt Pickens did. After the 2007 season, Pickens became one of the top goalkeepers in Major League Soccer. He was out of contract with the league and in negotiations. Bob Bradley invited him to U.S. Men’s National Team training camp. It was his time to shine.
And then he had a dilemma. Pickens was offered the opportunity to train with Norwich City overseas. Bradley gave him permission and he was quietly on his way. Pickens spent the next couple of weeks weighing his options. In the end, the Fire made a good offer, but Pickens left his heart in Europe.
“If I had no European options, I’d be back in a Fire uniform,” Pickens said. “I’d be a fool not to go to Europe when I have my chance. I don’t want to look back and wonder what if. I have the chance, and I have to take it.”
There was speculation that the Fire wasn’t making a decent offer for Pickens or that having him back wasn’t a priority. He was out of contract. Everyone knew that. But while Chicago wanted to hold on to their goalkeeper, they had to find a new head coach and soon.
“The Fire needed to look for a head coach,” Pickens said. “I understood that. I totally respected that. I was very happy about the final offer they made. Honestly, it doesn’t matter how much money they offered, I had an opportunity to play in England. And I had to take it.”
The truth is, the Fire wanted him back. And part of Pickens wanted to be back. But the offer to play in England was too great. Now he’s headed to join Queens Park Rangers. He will serve as the No. 2 keeper and sport Number 18. Pickens signed a contract through June 2008.
“Matt’s a guy we wanted back,” Fire head coach Denis Hamlett said. “He had aspirations to play in Europe and we wish him nothing but the best. He’s a great professional, a great keeper.”
Pickens and the Fire organization go back to 2002. He first played for the Fire as a member of the Chicago Fire Reserves (now Chicago Fire Premier). In 2003, Pickens had a breakout performance with 13 wins and six shutouts in 16 contests. In 2004, Chicago selected him with the 19th overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft.
He spent two and a half years as back-up goalkeeper for the Fire. Pickens made his MLS debut in 2005, coming in for an injured Zach Thornton. In 2006, he led the Fire to its fourth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Championship allowing just two goals and helping the club to a 4-0 record. Pickens finished the last eight regular-season games and two playoff games.
Former Fire President / General Manager Peter Wilt remembers the 2006 Open Cup fondly. While he was technically no longer a part of the organization, he was front and center with the fans in Section 8. After the Fire players received their medals, they ran over to Section 8. Pickens picked Wilt out of the crowd and gave him his medal. "I will never forget his kind gesture after the 2006 US Open Cup win when he found me in Section 8 and gave me his championship medal,” Wilt said. “I will always be a fan of his. Matt is a very good goalkeeper and has been loyal to the Chicago Fire. He was patient at the beginning of his career as a reserve, he worked hard and proved himself in MLS and now he is positioned for a great new opportunity.”
In the 2007 season, Pickens rose to a whole new level. He set a club record for shutouts with 10, while leading the club to a 9-8-10 record and a run at MLS Cup 2008. Oct. 21, 2007 was a huge night for the Fire. If Chicago won, they would secure, without a doubt, a trip to the playoffs. David Beckham also made his Toyota Park debut. Pickens had to stand strong in goal. He grabbed one of Beckham’s attempts and kept the net clean.
“You have to respect the guy,” Pickens said. “You have to be ready for anything. Those are the opportunities you live for.”
With the 1-0 win, Pickens earned his 10th shutout of the year. He did it all humbly with a smile on his face, always giving his teammates credit for all they accomplished.
“I didn’t even know that I set any kind of record,” Pickens said. “I’m happy with it. But the guys in front of me should be just as happy. It’s not just my record. It’s our record.”
Pickens MLS era is over for now, as he looks to live out his dream of playing in Europe.
“It’s a new challenge for me,” Pickens said. “It’s a different country, a different culture. I’m excited to get in the mix of things.” Chicagolandsoccernews

Northampton Chronicle - SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY have completed the loan signing of QPR midfielder Adam Bolder. The 27-year-old has joined for an initial month, but the Owls have the option of extending the deal for up to three months.
Manager Brian Laws said: "One thing that Adam Bolder can bring to Sheffield Wednesday is energy.
"He is also a good talker and has experience of being in this position before, so that will be valuable
." Sheffield Wednesday

Sheffield Wednesday manager Brain Laws believes Adam Bolder has the 'ingredients' to help the Owls avoid Championship relegation after signing the midfielder on a one-month loan.
The 27-year-old is QPR's club captain, but he was made available by boss Luigi De Canio following the arrival of a number of new faces in the January transfer window.
And Laws has moved quickly to capture Bolder as he bids to bolster his side in an attempt to avoid the Championship drop.
"One thing that Adam Bolder can bring to Sheffield Wednesday is energy," Laws told Wednesday's website.
"He is also a good talker and has experience of being in this position (a relegation battle) before so that will be valuable.
"He has the ingredients we need in this predicament we find ourselves in at the moment.
"Adam is a great age and the fact that he brings experience with him means he has the assets we need.
"We will be looking to see how the initial month's loan goes and there will be a possibility of extending that so we are delighted to welcome him to the football club."
Bolder will go straight into the Owls' squad to face Bristol City on Saturday.
Sporting Life

Sheffield Wednesday - Adam On The Attack
New Owls recruit, Adam Bolder, hopes he can make an impact on the Wednesday midfield and weigh in with a few goals from the centre of the park.
Having signed on an initial month-long loan from the R's, Bolder is looking to an attacking role from midfield and wants to help push Wednesday up the Championship.
Commenting on the move to S6, Bolder said: "It was a bit of a surprise that the move came about, it was a bit last minute but it is obviously nice to come and get some games under my belt. It is a massive club that's at the wrong end of the table at the moment but hopefully we can build a run of positive results and push up the league."
Bolder joins up with several former team mates from his Derby days, including Marcus Tudgay and Lee Grant and is looking forward to playing at Hillsborough.
"I was at Derby for quite a long time and I know Hillsborough is always a great place to come and play. Obviously it would be nice if I could get a few goals while I am here and perform well in the team," Bolder said.
"I am quite an attacking midfielder, hopefully I can get box to box, get some tackles in and hopefully come up with a few goals.
"I spent a lot of time at QPR being more of a defensive midfielder but at Derby for seven years I was an attacking midfielder so it will be quite easy to get back into the stride of thing and I am looking forward to getting forward and hopefully getting some goals..." Sheffield Wednesday

Mirror "{Sheffield Wednesday Boss Brian] Laws revealed: "QPR have now brought in so many players that he has become disillusioned and wants to get out. I'm delighted we have managed to nab him. "Mirror

Simon Walton - Hull Daily Mail from last week:
Walton: City is a forward step for me

AT THE age of 16, Simon Walton joined an elite group of Leeds United youngsters to have fame thrust upon them.
Like James Milner and Aaron Lennon before him, Walton made his professional debut before he was even allowed behind the wheel of a car.
England under-21 honours duly followed and within three years, he was deemed worthy of commanding a £500,000 transfer fee when moving to Charlton Athletic.
But by Walton's own reluctant admission, such experiences were too much, too soon.
Still only 20, the defender-cum-midfielder made Hull City his sixth club when this week arriving on loan from QPR until the end of the season. He may have lost his way along a glittering path to the big time, but Walton now appears as hungry as ever.
"People used to talk about me in a good way, not in a bad way. I just want to get that back" Walton told the Mail.
"It feels like I've taken a major step back at times and that's been frustrating.
"Things have gone downhill for me in the last couple of years but, at the same time, through it all I've learned some valuable experiences.
"You can't change things that have happened in your past so I'm just concentrating on getting back to where I was."
For now, Walton has a renewed chance of regular first-team football not afforded to him at QPR.
A loan move to the KC Stadium sees him join the Tigers' push for the play-offs and began with a swift debut in the 1-0 midweek win over Coventry.
Leeds-born Walton is thrilled at the chance to resurrect an injury-hit 2007/08 season.
"This feels like a positive move for me, it really does" he said.
"I see this as a forward step. I've come to a club that is higher than the one I've left and they're pushing for good things.

"We're three points off the play-offs with a game in hand so it's a new challenge for me.
"I just want to play football. It's been one of those seasons where I've been desperate to play anywhere, but this is a fantastic opportunity for me back up home." Report

Snippet: One Year ago Today: The Horror
BBC -Southend 5-0 QPR
QPR goalkeeper Simon Royce's gaffe set former club Southend on the way to a resounding win as the Shrimpers' bid to avoid relegation gathered pace.
Royce's attempted clearance hit Lee Bradbury, with the ball ricocheting straight into the net on nine minutes.
Darryl Flahavan made a series of second-half saves to deny QPR before Mark Gower's shot made it 2-0.
Efe Sodje's header extended Southend's lead, while Kevin Maher added two late goals with a couple of superb strikes....
QPR manager John Gregory:
"I don't see how this week could have got any worse.
"It's been an appalling night. We couldn't have got off to a worse start when conceding a goal like we did. "I'm very disappointed by the way the goals went in, but it's about how we recover now."
Southend: Flahavan, Hunt, Clarke, Sodje (Francis 87), Barrett, Campbell-Ryce, McCormack, Maher, Gower (Foran 77), Eastwood (Harrold 87), Bradbury.
Subs Not Used: Collis, Hooper.
Goals: Bradbury 9, Gower 70, Sodje 79, Maher 90, 90.
QPR: Royce, Mancienne, Cullip (Ray Jones 77), Stewart, Ainsworth, Lomas, Bolder, Timoska (Rehman 68), Rowlands, Blackstock, Cook.
Subs Not Used: Cole, Nygaard, Smith.
Booked: Ainsworth, Rowlands, Bolder, Blackstock.
Att: 10,217. Ref: P Walton (Northamptonshire). BBC

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