By Clemente Lisi – FOXBOROUGH, MA (Jul 12, 2009) USSoccerPlayers — Troy Perkins is no stranger when it comes to overcoming huge odds in order to achieve success.
As an undrafted player, he was able to make his way onto DC United’s roster and eventually become their starting goalkeeper. Perkins then landed a contract with a European club before being named the USA’s starting shot-stopper at this month’s Gold Cup, where his steady hands and confidence have helped the team land a spot in the quarterfinals.
“There have not been any real jitters and I don't expect there to be any,” Perkins said before taking the bench on Saturday in the US’s 2-2 draw versus Haiti at Gillette Stadium. “I have a good solid team in front of me, and there is no reason to have butterflies or anything like that.”
The 27-year-old has done a formidable job as the US National Team’s starting goalkeeper, recording shutouts against Grenada and Honduras before taking a much-needed breather versus Haiti. He is expected to start next Saturday in the quarterfinals.
“As for the clean sheets, I don't read to much into them,” he said. “It is just about doing my job when I need to and making the job for my defenders as easy and simple as I can.”
Perkins has come a long way over the past five years. Specifically, going from working as a part-time loan officer to one of this country’s most promising goalkeepers. He is a perfect example of an American player that got a shot at a pro career because of Major League Soccer. The Ohio native earned a development contract with DC United in 2004. Perkins impressed the coaching staff so much that the rookie replaced Nick Rimando from the starting job and played 16 games, only to wind up back on the bench by the end of the season.
Two seasons later, in 2006, he again unseated Rimando — this time permanently – and posted eight shutouts, an astounding 1.13 goals-against average and a league-leading 15 wins, earning MLS All-Star honors and league Goalkeeper of the Year award. To make ends meet, he also worked as a part-time loan processor — a job that inspired fans at RFK Stadium to create a clever banner reading: “Troy Saves — and Loans."
In December 2007, the 6-foot-2 Perkins caught the eye of Norwegian club Valerenga, who offered him a five-year contract that took him to Oslo. Last year, he helped the club win the domestic cup. Perkins’ solid play in Norway didn’t go unnoticed. Bradley named Perkins to the Gold Cup squad last month and his selection as Tim Howard’s No. 2 has paid off.
Perkins, who made his US debut in a friendly against Sweden in January, has had a solid defense to thank for helping him at the Gold Cup.
“They have done a great job,” he said. “As long as we continue to help the guy next to us and work hard then we will know no matter what we did what was asked of us.”
As for winning the Gold Cup, Perkins said that would be “a great achievement.”
“It is important for us to do well, but we must also not look any further ahead than the next game,” he said. “We need to keep our focus on just the game at hand and worry about getting a result there. So even though we want to win the tournament we are not thinking about anything else than the next game.”
Clemente Lisi is the author of “A History of the World Cup: 1930-2006.” Contact him at: CAL4477@yahoo.com