Perkins deal too good for Portland to pass up

Timbers jump on chance to acquire GK from DC, exchange Cronin

PORTLAND, Ore. – The deal to acquire Troy Perkins from D.C. United in exchange for counterpart Steve Cronin fell right into the Timbers’ lap, and it was just too mouth-watering for Portland’s management to pass up.

“[Perkins] is wanting a fresh start and we want a phenomenal goalkeeper,” Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson said.

Friday’s deal also included allocation money sent from Portland to DC. Additionally, D.C. United will retain a portion of Perkins’ salary budget number for the 2011 season.

Perkins is a former All-Star and was the named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2006. During a two-year stint in Norway, he helped Valerenga IF to the Norwegian Cup in 2008. He debuted for the US national team in a 3-2 win over Sweden in 2009. Later that year, he led the Nats to the finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, recording three shutouts in tournament play.

D.C. United paid heavily to re-acquire Perkins’ services this past January, trading away midfielder Fred, allocation money and a SuperDraft pick to the Philadelphia Union. But a listless campaign saw Perkins’ goals-against average slip to 1.68 – higher than his MLS career average of 1.22. Furthermore, he was dethroned from the starters’ spot by Home Grown goalkeeper Bill Hamid until the youngster was forced to undergo shoulder surgery in September.

“Not everyone has year-in, year-out great seasons,” Timbers coach John Spencer said of his new ‘keeper. “But do you have the mental strength to come back and be the player you were before? One average season doesn’t make you a bad player.”

This move wasn’t on the Timbers’ radar a week ago, when Cronin and his wife, Laura Kristi, modeled Portland’s new kits at a gala event. Cronin was the first player to take the runway and display the team’s primary jersey to a crowd of a 1,000 people. The incumbent 'keeper was very popular in Portland, where he had backstopped the second-division Timbers the past two seasons.

“It’s never an easy call to trade someone,” Spencer said. “I think Steve is good enough to be a No. 1 keeper [in DC].”

The prospect of acquiring Perkins was alive during last month’s Expansion Draft, but the two sides couldn’t agree on a deal.

“We thought it was dead in the water,” Spencer said. “It wasn’t until [Tuesday] that this came up again. We spent some time on it and decided it was a good move to make.”

Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson said the move showed “ambition.”

“We want the best team possible,” he said. “Fortunately, we get Troy Perkins. Unfortunately, we lose Steve Cronin.”

Spencer said that when the Timbers had previous discussion with D.C. United about Perkins, he envisioned a scenario where Portland would have both ‘keepers.

“We would have been happy to have Steve and Troy fighting it out for the No. 1 spot,” Spencer said.

To keep Perkins on a competitive edge, Spencer said that additional goalkeepers will be brought in prior to the team’s training camp.

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