Colorado Faces Tough Decision Over Goalkeepers
Clint Irwin’s rise from the third option at goalkeeper for the Colorado Rapids to All Star candidate has been one of the most unlikely storylines of the 2013 MLS season. In order for it to continue though, Irwin will have to keep his job as the starter when former number one Matt Pickens returns from the broken forearm that has kept him out since March 16th.
Pickens returned to training for the first time in months on Wednesday and the club is now bracing for a potential battle at the goalkeeper position. “He is now in a position that has been challenged by Clint,” said Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja, while adding that neither player will be traded. “It was very healthy for the club to have him in the goal today and ready to step in.”
Pickens spent his first session testing out his arm for the first time, but concluded that he was ready to go. “I’m 100 percent, and that shows it right there when you’re full out there training,” said Pickens. “But I’ve still got to go out there and get the reps, and that’s something I’m looking forward to do.”
When Pickens returns to full match fitness, Pareja will have the difficult job of choosing one of the two goalkeepers to be his starter. “Clint has to keep his high standards, and keep playing the way he has. That’s the way he handles himself,” Pareja said. “And Matt is going to need to show in training, too, and the games that we can set up that he’s ahead now, because we need to see where is Matt. We all have the memory of Matt, but we have to evaluate where he [is] at.”
The Rapids will hope that Pickens’ return will help boost the team’s defense. Colorado has lost three straight games and conceded seven goals during that stretch.