It's not just the thousands of Portland Timbers fans who are still scratching their heads over the team's decision to trade away goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
Perkins is, too.
Perkins was often the most reliable player on a team that has proven a disaster this season. After John Spencer was fired in July as head coach, Timbers general manager and interim coach Gavin Wilkinson cited Perkins as one of the team's leaders. He even hinted that Perkins deserved to be team captain (news to the existing captain, Jack Jewsbury.) Perkins had been a fan favorite for the Timbers, and one of the league's leaders in saves with 66.
So it shocked a lot of people, Perkins included, when the Timbers traded him to the Montreal Impact Aug. 7 in exchange for goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. The once-flattering Wilkinson all but kicked Perkins in the butt out the door with criticism about the popular keeper.This weekend against the New England Revolution, Perkins had four saves in a shutout in his first game with his new team.
WW caught up with Perkins before that game to talk about leaving Portland, Wilkinson's remarks upon his departure, and Perkins' rusty French.
WW: So how do you feel about the trade?
Troy Perkins: The first day when I got the phone call it was really tough emotionally, for me and my wife. It ‘s part of our business, but you don’t expect it to happen the way it did. I was actually leaving on my way to training after dropping my kid off. I had to pull the car over, turn it around and go home.
Portland has no chance for the playoffs but Montreal is in the hunt. Are you happy to be on a team with playoff chances this season?
It helps. After seeing the organization here and the players, I’m happy to be here. That was the first thing out of my wife’s mouth when I got the call: “At least you have a chance to be in the playoffs.”
What are your feelings on leaving Portland?
I’m incredibly sad. I show my emotions pretty easily, and it was tough leaving home on Wednesday to come out here in the morning. We just got our house the way we want it, and it’s hard to leave our son. With technology the way it is you’re still in touch, but it’s difficult. And leaving Portland is really hard. I think people who live in the Willamette Valley are incredibly spoiled. It’s as close to being in a perfect place as you can get. The feeling you get is second to none.
What’s your feeling on the Portland fans?
The fan base is incredible. I don’t think that there’s anything in the U.S. that you could compare that to. They expect a lot, and obviously it’s a little unrealistic, but it shows you how much they care. I think they deserve a lot better than they’re getting.
Portland Timbers Interim Coach Gavin Wilkinson had some criticism about you upon your leaving. Care to comment?
Gavin can say what he wants to say. I’m not going to go the way he did. Hopefully we get this team in the playoffs, and that’ll be what I have to say. That’ll be my statement.
Wilkinson said he thought Donovan Ricketts would be a better mentor for Jake Gleeson, the Timbers' young backup keeper. One of the first things that Gleeson said about you after your departure was that you’d been a great mentor.
Jake and I always had a good relationship. I always thought of him as a younger brother who needed guidance. I always told him to let things go, not to worry about every mistake. Obviously I didn’t agree with what Gavin said about that.
Anything you’d want to do over?
There were some days that weren’t the best, but I give you everything I’ve got. Sometimes it’s not the best. But I do everything I can. I can’t look back and say I have regrets.
You were more vocal than most players. Do you think you got punished for it?
Probably. As a pro, what you think and what you want, you have to say those things. You can’t hide that. It’s your career. In order to make things better you have to speak up. That’s how you get to make things better. If they can’t take criticism, so be it.
Are you coming back to Portland?
My family is still there in Portland, and probably will be for some time. We bought a house. We really did want to stay there forever. I even talked to the management staff about retiring there. Obviously, that’s not going to happen now.
Did you call up John Spencer after you found out about the decision?
I’ve texted him a couple times. I don’t think he’s in Portland. I think he’s in Scotland. He lived down the street from me so I saw him all the time. I know we’re both a little perplexed and disappointed.
How’s life in Montreal?
It’s a fantastic club and scene. After being here I’ve warmed up to it. It’s a great place, and I know my son’s going to learn French, which is a big plus. I always love challenges, and this is turning out to be a pleasant one.
How’s your French?
I took two semesters, so it’s not very good. But it’ll be all right.