Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Chris Sharpe is confident his next opportunity with the club will come sooner rather than later. The 28-year old has been with the MLS club since 2007 after stints training in England with Premier League clubs Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers, playing with Southampton also in England and in Denmark with Viborg and Koge BK.
Ahead of the 2010 MLS season which kicks off this weekend, Sharpe spoke to tribalfootball.com of his intent to become a first team regular with the Rapids this season and also gave us a small insight to part of the club's pre-season preparation which took place in England.
"Everything is going very well," Sharpe said. "It's a long pre season, 8 weeks, we have had two good trips, one to Arizona and the most recent to London, to train at Arsenal.
We still have a week before the first game against Chivas (USA) and I think we are looking in good shape."
Sharpe and the Rapids were able to take in a European Champions League match whilst in London and he said it was a great experience to watch such a high standard of the game.
"Being in London again was great," he added.
"I have spent a lot of time in England during my career at Blackburn and Southampton, but it's always nice to get back there.
"Arsenal's training ground was first class, and it was great to get on some quality grass after spending the first five weeks on turf. The Champions League game was great, Arsenal were a different class and won 5-0 (against FC Porto). The new stadium at The Emirates is amazing, holds about 60,000 and was packed."
In regards to 2010, Sharpe rates his own chances of playing regular football with the Rapids as very strong although he will have some tough competition in the form of Matt Pickens, Stew Ceus and now Ian Joyce who was added to the roster a few weeks ago.
"I feel I have a good chance this year, Matt is obviously going in as the number one as he had a good season last year, but I feel my chance is just around the corner.
"Matt and I have a great relationship on and off the field. We are always pushing each other, and I think with that competition it's just making us both stronger goalkeepers. I think though, if things keep going the way they are, my chance will come sooner rather than later!"
As for the clubs goals, Sharpe said Colorado were intent on making the play-offs after missing out in 2009 despite the fact there will another new team to contend with and added that it was an exciting time in Major League Soccer with new teams joining every year as the Philadelphia Union get set for their debut season.
"I think anything less than the play-offs this year would be a unsuccessful season for us," Sharpe said.
"With the additions of Geoff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson (both from New England Revolution), and if Jamie Smith, Pablo (Mastroeni), Omar Cummings and Conor Casey can stay fit and healthy there is no reason why we can't push on and shake things up a bit this season!
"I think it's a great thing with new clubs entering the league. We all saw what happened last year with Seattle, 30,000 people a game and they did very well.
"There is a good excitement around Phillie (Philadelphia) this year and with Portland and Vancouver in the next two years it will only strengthen the football following in the USA.
I don't believe it will saturate the market, football in the USA and Canada is beginning to grow rapidly and if the league can keep bringing in world class players with strong franchises it will only strengthen the league further."
"I would like to move back home at some point and come and play in the A-League," he added further. " I have been talking about it a bit lately and I am hoping that in the not too distant future we can make that happen. Although I would never rule out a move back to Europe, I loved my two years in Denmark, maybe a Sweden or Norway move would be nice."
And 2010 being a World Cup year, I couldn't let Chris leave without his hot tip for the sport's biggest tournament.
"I think if everyone can stay fit and healthy moving towards the World Cup we (Australia) will have a great run," he predicted.
"I feel if Schwarzy (Mark Schwarzer) has a big tournament we could do very well!! When you look at it we have some great footballing nations in our group, but if we can manage a few results early and get to the second round anything can happen for us.
"For me Brazil look the goods, but I am thinking Spain may be in for a big tournament!"