WASHINGTON — At this time of year, MLS players turn to a range of escapes to refresh their minds and put the season behind them. Some play video games, others embark on vacations to distant locales.
D.C. United goalkeeper Troy Perkins has been immersing himself in home improvement projects at his family’s house in suburban Maryland.
“I put up beadboard in a bunch of places, then crown molding and baseboards, painted,” he said last week. “I didn’t miss [soccer] for a while. It was nice—your mind just completely wanders away.”
Perkins probably needs that sort of meditative toil as much as anyone after the season he and his United teammates had.
The veteran netminder made a happy homecoming to Washington last January, returning to his first professional club after a stint with Valerenga IF in Norway’s top flight. He brought with him the expectation that he would solve United’s nagging shortcomings in goal and assume a leadership role both on and off the field. United had been the launching pad for Perkins’ rags-to-riches rise from undrafted rookie to US national team player pool member, and now the club was ready to make him one of the highest-paid goalkeepers in MLS, a cornerstone of their rebuilding project.
It also seemed a perfect fit for Perkins. His wife, Elizabeth, had been unable to pursue her pharmaceutical career in Oslo, and they were eager to raise their 20-month-old son, Jackson, closer to family.
Eleven months later, the picture looks decidedly different. Like the rest of the squad, Perkins struggled in the 2010 season’s early stages. He lost his starting spot to 19-year-old rookie Bill Hamid, then regained the job midseason when Hamid went down with a season-ending shoulder injury. By then, though, there was no rescuing United’s campaign. The club missed the playoffs, and every United players knows there are changes ahead.
“You never know,” Perkins said. “A club could say, ‘Yeah, we want to keep you here for a long time,’ but then they turn around and say, ‘Enh, we’re going to leave you unprotected.’ All of a sudden you get picked up and you’ve got to move.”
Sure enough, Perkins was left unprotected in Wednesday’s Expansion Draft. But both Vancouver and Portland passed on the 29-year-old—and his large contract. However, United’s trade with the Portland Timbers—swapping Rodney Wallace and a SuperDraft pick for Dax McCarty and allocation money—showed that the club is ready to wheel and deal in the name of reconstruction.
Perkins declined to comment on the moves this week, but he’s clearly realistic about the future. With a poor season behind them and a new head coach yet to arrive, uncertainty reigns for him and the majority of his teammates.
“If it happens, it happens,” he said, “but I won’t be happy leaving.”
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