Matt Pickens a finalist for USL Goalkeeper of the Year

Ryan Lassan/For Club and Country

Awards szn marches on. From club release:

NASHVILLE (November 6, 2018) – One of the stars for Nashville Soccer Club in its inaugural season, goalkeeper Matt Pickens, was named one of three finalists for the United Soccer League’s (USL) 2018 Goalkeeper of the Year award on Tuesday afternoon.

“Matt proves again that he ranks among the best in USL,” said Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith. “He was a rock for us this season and set the type of example that continues to inspire others around him.”

Pickens was Nashville SC’s first-ever signing last offseason and came to the club with championship pedigree. He played up to the billing in 2018, keeping 14 shutouts, the second-most in the USL, and finishing the year with .90 goals against average, the third-best mark in the league.

“Matt was asked to stand tall for us time and again all season, and always rose to the occasion,” said Nashville SC VP of soccer operations and technical director Mike Jacobs. “It is to no one’s surprise that he is being recognized among the top goalkeepers in the USL for 2018.”

Prior to being Nashville’s first signing, Pickens spent four seasons with the Tampa Bay Rowdies where he became the club’s all-time wins and games leader amongst keepers. In his career, Pickens has won an MLS Cup (Colorado Rapids, 2010) and a U.S. Open Cup (Chicago Fire, 2006).

Other finalists for USL’s 2018 Goalkeeper of the Year include Ottawa Fury FC’s Maxime Crépeau and Sacramento Republic’s Josh Cohen. The winner will be unveiled next Monday.

Given that the other finalists were first-team (Crepeau) and second-team (Cohen) All-USL, you have to think Pickens is a bit of an underdog for this one. He was a rock for NSC, though, and had more saves (and a better save percentage) than Crepeau and more clean sheets than Cohen.

His late-season fade – multiple goals allowed in five of the final 11 regular-season games (including the last two, both draws), after allowing multiple goals in just five of the first 23 – played a role in bringing down his stats, for sure. Prior to that, he was head-and-shoulders above the field, despite only being honored on the USL team of the week one time all season.

(If you’re interested in getting inside the sausage factory, my votes went to Orange County’s Andre Rawls and Crepeau – in that order – as outlets were able to nominate but not vote for players from the teams they cover).

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