Matt Pickens is a big fisherman in his spare time but you sense he would be happy to have a car sticker this weekend that says "I'd rather be playing soccer." The Colorado Rapids goalkeeper is relishing the chance to swap his goalie gloves for some rods back home in his native St. Louis this weekend as the team enjoys some well-earned rest on a bye weekend. However, Pickens knows that he needs games under his belt as he seeks to consolidate the number one spot between the posts. "It is frustrating not to have a game," he said after training yesterday. "I really want to get consistent and I want to get that rolling by playing consecutive games." The 27-year-old knows he has a tough fight on his hands after he watched some impressive displays by teammate Preston Burpo while recovering from a back injury. Gary Smith, head coach at the Rapids, is grateful to have, as he terms it, two "first choice goalkeepers." Last week, Smith benched Burpo in favor of Pickens as he felt Burpo had slightly slipped on his own high standards. Pickens managed to keep the team's first clean sheet of the season in what was a professional and competent display by the team. "We played a very sound defensive game with a lot of discipline," Pickens said. "We knew each other's strengths and we played it simple." Such sound defensive work meant Pickens didn't really have to do a lot during the game. Now, he just needs more games to improve his own consistency and hold on to the position. "I feel it is my job to lose," Pickens said. "I love competition; I have had it through my entire career and so it is nothing new to me."
If he does develop some sort of consistency over the next few games, it is not inconceivable that Pickens could be called into the national team set-up for the upcoming Confederations' Cup and Gold Cup tournaments where the US is unlikely to field first-team squads as it concentrates on World Cup qualifiers. He's been there before, taking part in the training camp ahead of last November's World Cup qualifier against Guatemala in Colorado. All he can do for now is get a run of good games under his belt for his club, something he will no doubt be thinking about as he catches a few trout this weekend. The Rapids next play New England on the road May 16. More of this interview should be available at www.mlsnet.com.