Troy Perkins says he was “incredibly surprised” to learn he had been traded.
But given time to reflect on Tuesday’s deal that sent him from the Portland Timbers to the Montreal Impact, the veteran goalkeeper is looking forward to a new challenge.
“It hit me hard,” Perkins said of the trade Thursday. “As a city and area to live in, Portland was ideal. But obviously professionally and career-wise, this is a much better place and top-notch place to be.”
Perkins has heard nothing but good things about the Montreal and its soccer franchise. Arriving tagged as the No. 1 goalkeeper, he was impressed with what he saw after his first practice with his new team.
“I just want to be a consistent player for them and be a guy they can rely on,” Perkins said. “I just want to come in, win and do my best for the team.”
Not only did the trade send Perkins across the continent, it has also propelled him north in the standings.
In Portland, his team sat in the Western Conference basement, second-to-last in the league overall. In Montreal, he joins a club in the hunt for a playoff spot, sixth in the Eastern Conference.
The 31-year-old, who was in his second season with the Timbers, hasn’t been a part of the MLS post-season since 2007 as a member of D.C. United. He went to Norway the following season, spending two years there before returning to D.C. in 2010.
“That was the first thing my wife said to me, actually, that at least I have a chance to make the playoffs now,” Perkins said. “That’s really special, that’s something that I’ve missed.”
Nine games remain on the Impact’s schedule, beginning with Sunday’s match against the Revolution in New England.
“As a team, we’re in a spot and need points. We’ve got to be able to make a push to get in the playoffs,” he added. “I want to be a part of something and I want to be a part of my new team.”
Donovan Ricketts went the other way in the deal with Portland and his former Impact teammates said his personality would be missed in the locker-room.
And while a new face late in a season can make for a tough adjustment, the feeling after one training session was it will be anything but with Perkins.
“He’s like an old shoe with us, very comfortable,” defender Jeb Brovsky said.
“He’s a fierce competitor, first and foremost. I know that you can always hear him barking on the pitch. He’s a natural leader and he’s going to step in without a hitch.”
Perkins knows head coach Jesse Marsch and assistant Mike Sorber from his time with the U.S. national team, where both served as assistants under Bob Bradley. Marsch feels that combined with the goalkeeper’s MLS experience will benefit the Impact.
“He understands how this league works, he’s watched our team play, and he’s been a good goalie in this league for many years. I think he’ll only strengthen us and that will help, and quickly,” Marsch said.
The Impact already faced the Timbers this season, a 2-0 Montreal win back on April 28. Perkins started that game for Portland but left in the 67th minute after a kick from Impact forward Sanna Nyassi left him with a bad gash on his face.
“I got here this morning and I actually looked on the bottom of his boot to see if I could find the rest of my nose but he apparently washed it off,” Perkins joked.
Perkins wasn’t holding a grudge against Nyassi, calling it an “honest play.”
Timbers interim head coach and general manager Gavin Wilkinson called the swap of Perkins for Ricketts “an upgrade” for his club.
Perkins wasn’t about to get caught up in a war of words.
“That’s his opinion. He can say whatever he wants. He’s said some things in the past about other guys that have left the club. That’s him,” he said. “It’s a bit of motivation for me, obviously. I’m not going to fight back in the media. I’ll show my stuff on the field.”
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