[U.S. NATIONAL TEAM CAMP]
Apparently, Fire keeper Matt Pickens
wasn't kidding a few months back when he hinted at trying his luck overseas. Instead of training
with the U.S. national team at Home Depot Center, he's on trial with Norwich City, a former English Premier League club now playing in the League Championship.
The Canaries are in 20th
place, just above the relegation zone (the bottom four teams go down to Division One in the 24-team division) and are selling keeper Joe Lewis
to Peterborough United, although Lewis has not
been the starter and returned last month after playing on loan.
Goalkeeping coach Jim Hollman
recently left the club, so there are changes afoot in the Norwich nets.
Pickens left the U.S. camp with permission from Coach Bob Bradley
. Since he's out of contract with MLS, the Fire could not prevent him from going on trial, and since he has not played for the
USA, he would need to either qualify for an EU passport or earn a work permit on appeal to play in England.
Pickens trained with the U.S. team at this time last year for friendlies against
Denmark and Mexico but didn't make the game-day rosters.
Bradley named Steve Cronin
, the backup to Galaxy keeper Joe Cannon
, to replace Pickens. Cannon served as the backup
to, respectively, Matt Reis
and Tim Howard
for the Denmark and Mexico friendlies last year.
Cannon might have been named for this camp himself, but he underwent sports
hernia surgery in December. He should be ready to go when the Galaxy opens its preseason camp later this month.
The other keepers in U.S. camp are Brad Guzan
(Chivas USA), Will
(Columbus Crew) and Zach Wells
(D.C. United). The USA faces Sweden in a friendly Jan. 19 at the Home Depot Center.
Pickens, 25, won the Fire starting job in 2006 and
last year compiled a 1.20 goals-allowed average while posting a 9-8-10 record in 27 matches.
Chicago selected him in the 2004 SuperDraft as the 19th overall pick and rather than negotiate a
new deal he elected to let his contract expire.