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Friday, February 08, 2008

A Tale of Two Goalies

A mixed week for QPR in terms of goalkeepers. After deciding not to sign Stefan Postma and failing to get a work permit for Bradford's Donovan Ricketts, it was third time lucky as QPR announced they had signed Chicago Fire's out-of-contact goalkeeper, Matt Pickens. However this week also saw the departure from QPR of their hotly-pursued star youth prospect goalkeeper, Liam O'Brien, who has apparently signed for Portsmouth.

In a message posted on a QPR fan messageboard, Liam O'Brien's father, a life-long QPR fan (along with his departing son, Liam), expressed very deep unhappiness with QPR Chairman Gianni Paladini.
Declaring it had been a life-long dream of Liam and his family that he play for QPR, O'Brien's father declared that Liam had been pursued by a number of Premiership clubs including Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Manchester City, besides Portsmouth.
After praising QPR's youth coaching staff, past and present, the father bemoaned the fact that the club has had no goalkeeping coach since Tony Roberts departed the club almost a year ago. O'Brien then focused the core of his critique on QPR Chairman Paladini.

INCOMING: Chicago Fire's Dean Pickens
MLS/Kathryn L. Knapp - Chicago set for new faces in net - Veteran Busch bracing for challenges from three young 'keepers
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Out with the old and in with the not-so new will be Chicago's theme in goal for 2008. The 2007 starting goalkeeper, Matt Pickens, has departed the club to live out his European dreams. Jon Busch will assume the No. 1 goalkeeper spot, with a bit of competition from three other young 'keepers.
"We brought Busch in last season to push Matt," Fire assistant/goalkeeping coach Daryl Shore said. "We always felt like we had two No. 1 goalkeepers. We also have young guys pushing for that spot.
"It's bittersweet," Shore continued. "We'll move on and be fine. Matt was a solid goalkeeper who would have had a bright future in Chicago. This is a business. It was great to see him grow for four years."...
Pickens leaves the Fire after four years. He spent 2006-07 earning himself a starting spot in the lineup. After 2007 he had every intention to return to the Fire, but while renegotiating with the Fire and training with the U.S. national team, he had an offer he couldn't refuse.
Pickens was given the opportunity to train with Norwich City in England. He headed over to see what would happen. A couple of weeks later, he's on his way back and is now expected to join Queens' Park Rangers this week.
"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 weren't making a decent offer for Pickens or that having him back wasn't a priority. He was out of contract, something that was commonly known. But while Chicago wanted to hold on to their goalkeeper, they also 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
"Matt's a guy we wanted back," 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."...

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