Timbers' Perkins: Man on A Mission
PORTLAND — Goalkeeper Troy Perkins does not mince words.
The Portland Timbers’ new goalkeeper said Wednesday that not only does he feel like he was made a scapegoat of D.C. United’s tough season last year, but that he’s eager for a fresh start with the expansion club that made him a priority.
“It’s not the beginning of a new chapter,” Perkins said. “It’s a whole new book.”
Perkins, 29, came to Portland in a Dec. 17 trade from D.C. United after a tumultuous 2010 season. The 2004 MLS Cup winner and 2006 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year endured his worst season statistically last year behind one of the most porous defenses in the league, finishing with a 1.68 goals-against average in 22 appearances.
Perkins returned to MLS with much fanfare last February after more than two years and 53 appearances with Norwegian side Valerenga IF, and he was quickly installed as the starter with D.C. United. Still, Perkins said he paid a steep price after the wheels fell off in D.C. last season, resulting in the December trade for fellow goalkeeper Steve Cronin.
“I felt like I got put into a situation that wasn’t the best,” Perkins said. “Someone has to take the fall. Someone has to get hung for it. Obviously, I’m the guy. I’m OK with it. I can look at myself in the mirror every day and be fine with it.”
Still, Perkins added: “I have a huge chip on my shoulder.”
Perkins said there were stressful off-the-field situations happening within his family last year that he prefers not to discuss. More than anything, Perkins is embracing the new year and new opportunity in Portland to prove his doubters wrong.
And the Timbers, for their part, appeared thrilled to give Perkins the chance.
“Today, we’ve acquired one of the best American goalkeepers in MLS,” Timbers coach John Spencer said the day of the trade. “With his valuable MLS experience and proven leadership, Troy has the ability and character to make a huge impact in Portland.”
Perkins arrived in Portland on Sunday and said he has experienced a sense of déjà vu. It feels a little bit like his arrival in Norway, dropping into a city where he knows almost no one.
As a career move, this feels like a defining moment for the Ohio native, coming to a town that will more than likely embrace his mix of international experience and blue-collar work ethic. He is eager to get started so that he can recapture the type of feeling he had in Norway. He already senses similarities.
“The Timbers are as close to a European club in America as you can find,” Perkins said. “And I think the city is the same way.”
For that reason, Perkins said he feels like he is taking “a step up” rather than latching on with an expansion team.
“This is a proving ground,” Perkins said. “I want to show people, all the doubters, all the people (in D.C.) that were happy to see me go, or that thought I was a one-hit thing, that’s not the case. I have a huge chip on my shoulder and I’ll prove them all wrong.”