Troy Story

After 51 appearances, and almost two years in Portland, Troy Perkins is a Timber no more. In a move that took everyone by surprise the first choice keeper was traded to playoff chasing Montreal Impact in exchange for their goalie, Donovan Ricketts.

And to think I had wondered what we were going to do to occupy ourselves in the long stretch before the El Cuchara de Madera Clasico in Toronto next week.

I took me a while to parse what had actually happened here. Had we really just shipped out one of the few guys on the roster to emerge out of a FUBAR 2012 season with a reputation relatively unscathed?

Yes. Yes, we did.

So, what is going on here?

Well, in Ricketts the Timbers have acquired the 2010 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. The ex-Galaxy man is still held in high regard by many Beckham FC fans, though few Impact fans seem to be mourning his loss.

I’ll be honest in that I haven’t been watching a great deal of Montreal this season, so I’ll leave it to others who are more capable of really analysing what the Timbers have got here. Being in the UK for much of the season, the only non-Timbers matches I really get a chance to see are those broadcast here by ESPN, and those are predominantly LA or New York games.

Perhaps Ricketts struggles this year can be attributed to a poor defence in front of him. 7 of the 39 goals he’s conceded this year have come from penalties, which suggests all is not well in front of him. So, it’s just as well he’s coming to a team where we’ve got the defence absolutely locked down and water tight.

Oh, sheeeeeeeeeeet.

Montreal are willing to pick up some of the more expensive Rickett’s salary for the next two years, so the Timbers effectively pay the same as they had for Perkins and don’t take a hit, in that sense at least, for it. I’ll admit that the MLS salary rules are something I’ll likely never properly understand, but when I see a team chasing the playoffs paying us to take their keeper of their hands, I have to wonder if this really is the “upgrade” that Gavin Wilkinson claims it is.

The more I hear from Wilkinson, the more I wish he’d keep his mouth shut.

Reading the news of the official site one line stood out to me.

Troy has been an important player for us, but we as a coaching staff saw this as an opportunity to improve the position, while optimizing our budget numbers in 2012 and 2013.

“Improve the position”. Is there really any need for that line to be there? What is it with this club and the need to take a shot at players who’ve left?

Maybe I’m nitpicking and, okay, it’s not the “professional expectations” and “non soccer reasons” of the Marcelin cut, but for me it betrays a lack of class and decency from the front office.

Would it be so hard to say something like this instead?

Troy has been an important player for us, but we as a coaching staff saw this as an opportunity to get another experienced, quality goalkeeper in, while optimizing our budget numbers in 2012 and 2013, with a view to developing our young goalkeepers who are the long term future of the club.

I get that you want to put a positive spin on the move, but it’s entirely possible to talk up Ricketts as the great saviour without having to stamp down Perkins down in the process with snidey little digs.

Wilkinson went on to reaffirm his opinion that Ricketts was the better keeper with his “ It’s an upgrade, in all honesty” comment. I don’t see why he can’t talk positively about Rickett’s attributes without framing it in terms of Troy Perkins’ supposed deficiencies, regardless of whether you actually think this is an upgrade or not.

For the record, I don’t. I think at best it’s a sideways move, and at worst we’ve just signed a keeper on the downhill part of his career.

This is a guy, Perkins, who took a boot to the face for the this club, and anyone with half a brain in their head could see has bailed this team out on countless occasions. Show the guy a bit of fucking respect at least.

Even if you do genuinely believe you’ve got a better keeper in, why have you got to betray such a lack of class in addressing it. It’s the “professional expectations” and “non soccer reasons” of the Marcelin cut all over again.

Of course, why I should expect any different from a guy who gave us “I’m not throwing anyone under the bus, but…” comments after he guided his team to a 5-0 loss in Dallas, I don’t know.

As well as the needlessly petty tone taken in talking about Perkins’ contribution to the Timbers, it’s the timing of this move that bothers me.

Following on from the hiring of an “assistant” before we’d even appointed a new head coach – I guess whoever we get had better just accept the staff he’s given and get on with it – we’re now trading away crucial members of our first team.

What is pretty clear is that this is a move all about getting Jake Gleeson installed in the starting XI. The 22 year old Kiwi got a chance last season when Troy Perkins was injured, and I thought he did fairly well and I wouldn’t have minded at all if he’d been allowed to keep his place. I’m a big believer that if you get a chance and do well, you deserve to play regardless of who you’re keeping out of the team.

But Wilkinson’s own words betray the fact that even he doesn’t think Gleeson is quite ready yet.

We are bringing [Ricketts] in to do a job and we are also thinking that that is a better environment for Jake Gleeson to develop in. [He] accepts that he’s a mentor for [Gleeson and Bendik], that one day one of those two is going to surpass where he is.

So we’ve essentially traded out one of the club’s few genuine top players, someone just coming into his prime years, for a stop-gap veteran?

Clearly Gleeson isn’t quite ready to step up yet, or we wouldn’t be signing a “mentor” for him. I’m sure he will be a great keeper in time. I don’t see why we don’t ride out this year and let the new head coach, whoever he or she may be, make the call on who they think is the best keeper for the club. If they agree Gleeson is the future, and the future is now, then we have one of the league’s top goalkeepers, with years ahead of him still, to offer as leverage in a trade for a player in a position where we are weak like, say, defence. Or midfield. Or attack.

I get the impression that Troy was unwilling to sit out so that Gleeson could get some game time, though give the way he’s carried himself with supreme professionalism and dignity through-out his time here, I’ve also doubt that had he been benched, he’d have done it without throwing the toys of out the pram. I mean, not being happy at all, but not feeling the need to unsettle everyone else over it.

Also, I’m not sure signing someone who is willing to sit out is a good thing, you know? That hardly speaks of a guy in his prime, confident in his abilities to be a top keeper any more. Maybe Ricketts himself has recognised he’s lost a bit of sharpness and accepts that this is going to be his role, and as long as he gets some game time in front a good crowd, he’s happy with that. Maybe he’s got one eye on moving into coaching, and this is a good bridge towards that. Only Donovan Ricketts would know.

So instead of keeping Perkins and letting Gleeson battle him for the right to take over as number one, we get a 35 year old who’ll likely see out the next couple of years, as I don’t think there’s any way Ricketts is here beyond 2013 when Montreal stop supplementing his salary. If all goes well, Ricketts rides the bench for much of next year as Gleeson takes over. Of course, as Wilkinson says, “35, for a goalkeeper, is not old” and he’s right – Brad Friedel is still doing it arguably the toughest league in the world, past 40 – but the flip side is that we seem hell bent on rushing through a 22 year old. If 35 isn’t old, is 22 a bit young?

The debate can rage on about the merits or otherwise of this trade, but after all is said and done Troy Perkins has gone and Donovan Ricketts is a Timber now. I wish Troy all the best, except when Montreal face Portland (which fortunately won’t be this year) but Donovan is our man now and he’s gets 100% backing.

I doubt this isn’t the end of it. I’ve suspected for a while that we won’t see Kris Boyd back next year, for one. He’s seen the guy who brought him here fired, and has been hung out to dry in a system that doesn’t work for him – seriously, if you sign Kris Boyd for DP money, you know what you’re getting so you build the team around playing to his strengths, you don’t just plug him into what was currently there and hope for the best because, shock, that isn’t going to work. If I was a Championship club and I’m looking to push on in January, I’d fancy taking a punt of him. I doubt Wilkinson would put up a big fight to keep Spenny’s guy in Portland.

Those fans calling for Wilkinson to go had best buckle down because if this move says anything to me it’s that Gavin is going nowhere. He’s already building his team for next year.

Be afraid, be very afraid.


22 thoughts on “Troy Story

  1. Montreal saw a keeper who was willing to put his face on the line to make a save during a regular season game and said we will trade you our keeper and give you money. You are right about the quotes from Gavin they do seem classless, petty and unprofessional. When looking at video and stats it does seem that Perkins has better hands and fewer botched saves. I certainly hope Ricketts distribution is better and his communication with the back line is better. I wonder if he speaks spanish? I guess it is time for Gleeson to really step up and stay injury free. The Timbers Army is at it’s wits end with the Front Office now. It will be interesting to see what happens at the next home game. I think we need to be signing a new coach very soon. Hopefully one that can standup to Gavin and take control of this team. This was definitely a bad PR move for a team that is struggling and just one point from last in the MLS.

  2. Perkins obviously gave his heart and soul to the team, but I always thought he was a bit overrated. He’s steady for the most part, but not nearly as good as folks who sit in my section seem to think he is. At the very least I don’t think he’s a top-10 keeper in the league, so trading him away and trying something new isn’t a bad option. It can’t hurt us much more on the field this year.

  3. I am hoping that the change in the last line of defense inspires the back line to step up. I am surprised that Smith still has a job here.
    I have always thought that Ricketts is a fortress and when inspired, ‘keeps’ with authority. The North End has a way of exuding contagious inspiration. So in that, I am enthusiastic. It IS sad that Perkins will not be handed any more log slices..

  4. How does one get in touch with the team ownership to let them know our feelings on Wilkinson? Is anyone passing around a “Fire Wilkinson” petition? Apparently, we can’t hold up these signs at the games, so what can we do? Does ownership know how much we hate and mistrust this guy? Do they care?

    1. we march around the stadium walkways with signs ala newcastle in 2009…thats how you do it. no twitter, no facebook, no emails to an account controlled by MP’s assistant…

    2. I think Merrit knows. But it’s hard to say whether he “cares” where the Svengali of Auckland is concerned.

      I know he reads the Timbers boards – he’s tweeted in response to posts at Stumptown Footy. Hell, he (or one of his staff) may visit this site, #RCTID, The Axe, Dropping Timber…so I’m pretty sure he’s got an idea of the depth of the resentment and outright hate building against Gavin. And so far all the signals – like this trade – suggest that no one is planning to see a different butt in the GM seat next season.

      Snot sure if either signs, petitions, boos from the stands – or anything else – will force him to part with his beloved Kiwi. For some reason that I cannot see apparent either in the man’s management skills, his player assessments, or his team-building savvy – Merritt is convinced that Gavin is some sort of soccer savant.

      Unfortunately, I think the only way he will get the message is if the Timbers start to suffer at the gate. If the stands begin to empty for matches, if the merch sales drop…THEN he might get a clue.

      1. its gotta be visible..on tv, something cant ignore, something espn can not ignore. i cant find anything on youtube but the newcastle stuff was unreal, i remember groups of people marching around the stadium walkways and mike ashley caught pounding a beer in the stadium on the jumbotron. despite our online savviness, the vast majority of timbers fans do not discuss the team online. this needs to be out in the open…banners hanging from the ta, tifo, banners in the pre-game line, this has to stop.

        this is mls, when you suck, you dont need to get the entire team to get better.

      2. I’d like to believe that we’d win; it’d have to be a big group. I’d join, because, frankly, it won’t be worth having a ticket if Gavin – or maybe a bunch of people in the front office, it’s hard to tell who has the soccer smarts to fix this team – stays here much longer, I think. And I have to say that I think that’s the gamble; the FO might take action against protestors. I think the day may be coming soon where we have to decide whether we’re willing to put our tickets on the line, as it were…

  5. We need to find a new owner, stat. 107ist should form a committee to seek out and vet potential new ownership and force Merritt Paulson to sell. He is a clueless jerk. Please read his tweets in response to STHs. Gavin Wilkinson is not the problem, he is merely weak-willed and spineless and a company man trying to keep his job under Merritt Paulson by spouting the party line. Merritt Paulson is the problem. He needs to go before he tarnishes the Timbers even further.

  6. Like Kevin, in tactical terms I see this as, at best, just like to like (Ricketts is supposed to be better running the backline and better with distribution but is older, not as good a shot-stopper, and has dropped off significantly in form in the past two seasons).

    The part about it that sickens me is what it says about the front office’s (and the main actor is supposed to be Gavin, although honestly we have no idea where Merritt and (potentially) the head-coaching finalist(s) fit in to this trade) approach to team building and supporter-team-building

    I want this to work out; I want to be wrong that this trade is more evidence that our front office is rudderless and is being led by a GM whose judgement, technical, and tactical skills appear highly…questionable…at best.

    But at this point it’s hard NOT to be afraid.

  7. Echoing others, but this was spot on. I’m veering closer and closer to Peter’s opinion, as well; MP’s comments defending Gavin’s by saying that he’s heard “worse in the EPL” runs awfully close to saying, yes, he hit his wife, but it’s not like he hit her *twice*. It’s classless, it’s toneless, and as much as I’d like the Timbers to be a winning team, I’d much prefer them to be a team I *like*..

  8. I think Gavin gets the benefit of the doubt for the rest of the season. Last season, we did relatively well. Something went wrong this season. The powers that be decided it was coaching problem, so they fixed it. We owe patience. Gavin has been given the chance to coach the players he picked. If he thinks trading one of the most-liked players for a has-been is the right move, we should abide by his decision…but only until the end of the season.

    What I don’t think Gavin deserves is to gut a good team of players, and then next season say, well, these NEW players need time to play well together. No, Gavin, you are accountable for the changes you make this season THIS season, good or bad. If no improvement, you get axed too, so to speak…

  9. I totally disagree. Perkins has been a loadstone on this team and not worth the value of his expensive salary. His defense has been a shambles and if I see him spoil another fast-break opportunity with his two dribbles and a throw to the center back I’ll puke.

    I’ve coached keepers in the past and he is the most un-organized and quiet keeper I have seen wearing a Timbers uniform. Odd since tis is usually a position we have shored-up.

    I agree with offloading him. Perhapse we now can get someone who can organize his defense. To prevent the goal in the last 20 min.

    Be gone Troy!


  10. NBorders,

    DC was paying most of Perkins’ salary. And if you are the NBorders I am thinking of do you still work for the Timbers front office?

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