PORTLAND — Goalkeeper TroyPerkins does not mince words.
The Portland Timbers’ new goalkeeper said Wednesday that not only does he feellike he was made a scapegoat of D.C. United’s tough season last year, butthat he’s eager for a fresh start with the expansion club that made him a priority.
“It’s not the beginning of anew chapter,” Perkins said. “It’s a whole new book.”
Perkins, 29, came to Portlandin a Dec. 17 trade from D.C. United after a tumultuous 2010 season. Thetwo-time MLS Cup winner and 2006 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year endured his worstseason statistically last year behind one of the most porous defenses in theleague, finishing with a 1.68 goals-against average in 22 appearances.
Perkins returned to MLS withmuch fanfare last February after more than two years and 53 appearances withNorwegian 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 inD.C. last season, resulting in the December trade for fellow goalkeeper SteveCronin.
“I felt like I got put into asituation 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 canlook at myself in the mirror every day and be fine with it.”Still, Perkins added: “I have ahuge chip on my shoulder.”
Perkins said there were stressful off-the-field situations happening within hisfamily last year that he prefers not to discuss. More than anything, Perkins isembracing the new year and new opportunity in Portland to prove his doubterswrong.
And the Timbers, for their part, appeared thrilled to give Perkins the chance.
“Today, we’ve acquired one of the best Americangoalkeepers in MLS,” Timbers coach John Spencer said the day of the trade. “Withhis valuable MLS experience and proven leadership, Troy has the ability andcharacter to make a huge impact in Portland.”
Perkins arrived in Portland on Sunday and said he has experienced a sense ofdéjà vu. It feels a little bit like his arrival in Norway, dropping into a citywhere he knows almost no one.
As a career move, this feels like a defining moment for the Ohio native, comingto a town that will more than likely embrace his mix of international experienceand blue-collar work ethic. He is eager to get started so that he can recapturethe 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” ratherthan latching on with an expansion team.
“This is a proving ground,” Perkins said. “I want to show people, all thedoubters, all the people (in D.C.) that were happy to see me go, or thatthought I was a one-hit thing, that’s not the case. I have a huge chip on myshoulder and I’ll prove them all wrong.”