This offseason, the Burgundy Wave staff will give short reviews on the play of all Colorado Rapids players who received a decent amount of time on the pitch during the season along with a season grade. Starting with Goalkeepers and then moving up the field as necessary from defenders to forwards, we'll start with Matt Pickens.
Name: Matt Pickens
Appearances: 37 (37)
Stats: 88 saves, 1.22 GAA, 45 GA
We love you Pickens, we do...
Certainly he had his moments as any solid veteran keeper does - that match against the LA Galaxy would probably have ended 5-0 if not for some brilliant work on his part - but if he keeps losing momentum like he did this year, he's just not going to be cut out for the starting job on a title contending team.
Of course, the Rapids aren't title contenders anymore, but dog-gonnit they were supposed to be!
The numbers for Pickens aren't terrible upon first glance. His 1.21 Goals Against Average is the 13th lowest among Goalkeepers who started at least 10 games during the regular season, and he did play every game this season, gaining the 'Ironman' award for the team. Looking at some other statistics might change the tune on that song though; it looks like the reason for his even decent season was the defense behind him putting in work more than actual heroics from Matt.
While Pickens faced the 9th most shots in the league this season, it must be pointed out that he played more games than every single keeper ahead of him in that stat except for Tally Hall - Tally played 38 to Pickens' 37 - and so had far more appearances to spread those shots around during. By that same token, his Goals Allowed was the 2nd worst in the league this year, again likely because he had more appearances to allow goals to be scored in.
Still, the relatively small number of shots he faced combined with the pathetic Save % that he's got from the 45 GA - a paltry 18th place among keepers with at least 10 games played last season - gives the impression that he was not a strong goalkeeper, but a rather weak one benefiting from having a shot-clearing and shut down defense, which is just what the Rapids had last year. Despite his good moments it's hard to forget the awful flubs that have almost become his trademark every few games. The terrible penalty he forced against New England at home, the rebound off the arm on the weak shot against San Jose, the free kick that he literally jumped out of the way of against Vancouver on the road... it's a very sad menagerie of memories for Pickens in 2011.
He still can't catch the ball either, but that's another story!
Hopefully this was just a down year for Pickens. If not, it might be time to see what Steward Ceus can do for us under the soon to be crowned new regime.
PLAYER RATING: 4.5