Matt Pickens went out on top.
The St. Francis Borgia Regional graduate was the United Soccer League Championship goalkeeper of the year for Nashville SC, recording a 0.64 GAA in 25 matches during the regular season.
He had a .798 save percentage, tops among goalkeepers with at least 40 saves. He also led the league in shutouts with 14, which put him over 100 shutouts for his playing career.
Pickens has taken the next step. At 37, Pickens has joined the staff of the Nashville SC Major League Soccer team, which joins the league this season.
Pickens, who was the USL team’s first-ever signing, will be the team’s goalkeeping coach this season.
Soccer has been very good to Pickens and he’s traveled over multiple continents in his professional odyssey.
After playing for St. Louis Community College and Missouri State, Pickens was the 19th overall pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft by the Chicago Fire. He helped that team win the 2006 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
In 2008, Pickens played for Queens Park Rangers in the English Championship. He returned to MLS with the Colorado Rapids and was in goal for that side when it won the 2010 MLS Cup.
In MLS, Pickens played in 156 matches with 57 wins, 40 shutouts and a GAA around 1.25. He’s the Colorado all-time franchise leader in several categories, including wins at 41 and shutouts at 29.
Pickens moved to NASL with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and shifted to USL when that club changed its affiliation.
For the past two seasons, he has been playing for Nashville SC’s USL team.
Pickens will be helping Gary Smith, Nashville SC’s head coach. Smith was Pickens’ coach at Colorado and with the Nashville SC USL team for the past two seasons.