Sunday, November 19, 2017
Sports

Milestone in reach for Rowdies' Matt Pickens

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG — He's no gray beard yet, but Matt Pickens has been around a while as far as pro athletes go. And at age 35, he's still going plenty strong.

On Saturday night, his longevity will place Pickens at a plateau that few modern-day Rowdies have reached. Pickens, assumed to be the starter again in goal when Tampa Bay hosts Harrisburg City, will be playing his 100th match in Tampa Bay colors.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Al Lang.

"It's tremendous," Rowdies coach Stu Campbell said of Pickens, also known as "The Beard" for pretty obvious reasons. Pickens' beard has hit the foot mark.

The mark Pickens hits Saturday is just as impressive, albeit one he's reticent to discuss.

"I'm not one of those guys that likes to talk about things before they happen, kind of a jinx thing, don't want to touch it too much," Pickens said. "But it's great. Personally it's a big thing for me."

Pickens, who had stints with MLS Chicago and Colorado before joining Tampa Bay for the 2014 season, has plenty of teammates more willing to espouse his virtues.

"It's special and it's an honor," says forward Martin Paterson. "You've got to keep yourself very fit … and keep on top of people that are in your spot. I've known him for a short period but I can tell he's an excellent professional, excellent goalkeeper and thoroughly deserves his 100 appearances."

Defender Tam Mkandawire has played with Pickens through his Tampa Bay stay and is his road roommate.

"I think this means a hell of a lot to him. He's managed to stay here for four seasons, which says a lot about him and how hard he works," said Mkandawire.

RELATED: Not sure the MLS odds are in the Rowdies' favor

Speaking earlier this week Pickens was more concerned with keeping Tampa Bay's late run of form going.

The only thing keeping Tampa Bay from a four-match win streak, and all shutouts at that, was a 95th-minute penalty kick at Orlando City B that resulted in a 1-1 draw.

"We're trending, so we want to keep that trend going," Pickens said. "When you're winning games, it almost seems easy to win now, because you know what to do and you just feel confident. Vice versa when you're losing it's so hard to find that win. Right now we're on the upside of that and we want to keep that rolling. Once you get a bump in the road, that can stop pretty quick."

Harrisburg City comes in on a three-match winless streak, most recently gaining a scoreless draw at OCB that has the Islanders in a three-way tie for eighth place and the last playoff spot in USL's Eastern Conference.

Tampa Bay has ascended to the fourth spot, but could be tied for first with a win Saturday. Leader Charlotte (37 points) is at last-place Toronto, and the two teams sitting ahead of the Rowdies (9-5-7, 34 points) face each other with Louisville at Charlotte Saturday.

Paterson, who had what would been a goal in a fourth straight game wiped out by a foul ("In my mind I scored," he said), knows the best way for things to play out Saturday: have Pickens make Game No. 100 another victory.

"I know he'll be desperate to get the win. And a shutout to mark it."

Comments
Resilient Saints rally, win eighth straight

Resilient Saints rally, win eighth straight

NEW ORLEANS — Alvin Kamara climbed into the Superdome stands, stood in the first row with his arms folded and soaked in the adulation of fans who had stuck around after all had looked lost. Kamara’s celebration of his 18-yard touchdown reception had ...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Jones: Even in victory, dread hangs over the Bucs

Jones: Even in victory, dread hangs over the Bucs

MIAMI GARDENS — A dark cloud is hanging over this football team.It’s a heaviness. A dread. A dread for what might have happened in the past and what might happen in the future.And that makes it hard for fans to truly enjoy what happened Sunday.The Bu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs-Dolphins journal: Patrick Murray on winning kick: ‘I knew I was going to make it’

Bucs-Dolphins journal: Patrick Murray on winning kick: ‘I knew I was going to make it’

MIAMI GARDENS — Patrick Murray has been so consistent since taking over as the Bucs’ kicker that he had no doubt when called upon to make a go-ahead field goal with four seconds left in Sunday’s win.Ryan Fitzpatrick completed three passes for 55 yard...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs-Dolphins report card: Grading Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

Bucs-Dolphins report card: Grading Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

MIAMI GARDENS — That was one ugly football game.The Bucs had a bad game. The Dolphins had a really bad game. And who had the worst game of all? The officials.In fact, the best part of Sunday’s game was before the game even started, thanks to a stirri...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs-Dolphins: How Ryan Fitzpatrick steadied Tampa Bay

Bucs-Dolphins: How Ryan Fitzpatrick steadied Tampa Bay

MIAMI GARDENS — For chaos, there was Jameis Winston missing his second game with a shoulder injury and an NFL investigation swirling around him.For calamity, there was the Bucs forcing four of their five turnovers in the first half and building a two...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs-Dolphins:  How rookies like O.J. Howard carried the day

Bucs-Dolphins: How rookies like O.J. Howard carried the day

MIAMI GARDENS — From start to finish, the Bucs’ wobbly 30-20 win over the Dolphins on Sunday was made possible by game-changing plays made by rookies.The Bucs’ top three picks in this year’s draft — tight end O.J. Howard, safety Justin Evans and rece...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ariya Jutanugarn rallies past Lexi Thompson to win LPGA’s Tour Championship

Ariya Jutanugarn rallies past Lexi Thompson to win LPGA’s Tour Championship

NAPLES — Lexi Thompson never had a putt so short that was potentially worth so much. She had a one-shot lead when she settled over a 2-foot par putt on the final hole Sunday at the Tour Championship. A victory would be worth $500,000 in prize money ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins: Social media reactions to Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

Bucs-Dolphins: Social media reactions to Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

The Bucs won their second straight and snapped a six-game road losing streak Sunday. And they did it after blowing a 13-point lead.Here’s a sampling of reactions on social media to Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win over the Dolphins in Miami Gardens:...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning’s rare loss produces reality check

Lightning’s rare loss produces reality check

TAMPA — Jon Cooper stood at the podium late Saturday night to address the media after a regulation loss for only the third time this season."Let’s be honest," he said, "we’ve had one hell of a start."The loss, he added, was frustrating, even when you...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Buccaneers-Dolphins: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win

Buccaneers-Dolphins: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs’ 30-20 win over the Dolphins on Sunday:5Bucs takeaways, four of which occurred in the first half. Tampa Bay last recorded four takeaways in the first half against Chicago in Week 2.6Turnovers quarterback Jay C...
Updated: 3 hours ago