Stefan Frei had manned the Sounders FC net for almost 5,000 consecutive minutes before exiting last week’s win over D.C. United with a shoulder injury. Head Coach Sigi Schmid said on Monday it doesn’t appear to be a long-term issue, but Frei could miss Saturday’s game in Chicago.
Despite the fact that Frei has started every match in the last two years and is having an outstanding season, there’s a sense of calmness amongst Schmid and his players as they prepare for a battle without their starting goalkeeper. That’s because Troy Perkins, who replaced Frei for the second half of the D.C. game, is a proven keeper that has spent the better part of the last decade in MLS.
Perkins, 33, is third among active goalkeepers with 214 career MLS appearances. He ranks in the league’s all-time top 10 in wins (75), saves (713) and shutouts (53).
“This is the reason we signed Troy. He’s an experienced goalkeeper,” Schmid said. “He’s been around the league, so he knows what it’s all about. As with any goalkeeper, when you’re not getting a lot of games, you’ve got to work on your timing. It’s hard to get that when you’re not playing games. But his experience, his shot-blocking ability and his ability to read the game are things he brings.”
Prior to this season, Perkins was a starting keeper in MLS ever since his second year in the league in 2005. He earned MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors in 2006 and guided D.C. to the Supporters’ Shield in the following season. Just two years ago, Perkins recorded a league-high 109 saves during the regular season to help the Montreal Impact reach the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time.
Perkins has also played for the U.S. National Team, serving as the starter for the squad that made it to the final of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
“Troy is a good goalkeeper,” midfielder Osvaldo Alonso said. “He’s been in the league a lot of years, so that will be good for us. We will just play the same way and look to keep getting three points.”
Perkins says his approach to the game hasn’t changed since he became a backup in Seattle. He trains and prepares the same way, knowing he’s always one play away from entering the match.
Sounders FC acquired Perkins early in the offseason after Marcus Hahnemann retired and Josh Ford was selected in the Expansion Draft by Orlando City SC. Friday was his first MLS action with the club, but Perkins has also played for S2 and started a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match.
“From day one it’s never been, ‘Oh, you’re the backup. Go sit down,’” he said. “The team and coaching staff has always kept me involved and kept me in tune with everything.
“I’ve got to show the club that they made a good choice in picking me up. I owe them a lot as well, so it’s my chance to hopefully give them a little bit of payback to helping me out.”