Portland gets keeper Ricketts in exchange
By Paul Danzer
Columbian staff writer
Given the way the Portland Timbers’ second season in Major League Soccer has unfolded, changes should not come as a big surprise.
But Tuesday’s swap of veteran goalkeepers with the Montreal Impact — with Troy Perkins leaving Portland and Donovan Ricketts coming — did surprise.
Perkins started the last 51 Timbers MLS matches.
On a young team searching for answers, Perkins was a fan favorite who seemed to be respected throughout the organization.
He was given the captain’s arm band for the July 21 game at Dallas.
General manager Gavin Wilkinson spoke of Perkins as one of the important leaders.
“To be fair, everybody in professional sports is replaceable,” Wilkinson said. “Everybody, at every single level, regardless of where they’re at, are replaceable.”
Rickets, who was with the Los Angeles Galaxy from 2009-2011, is expected to practice for the first time with the Timbers on Friday and to be the starter in goal when the team plays at Toronto Aug. 15 and at New York on Aug. 18.
On Tuesday, Wilkinson explained the trade as an opportunity to improve the team both on the field and on the salary front for 2012 and 2013.
Ricketts is guaranteed $275,000 in compensation this season. Perkins will earn $201,834 in 2012. Wilkinson said that Montreal will pay a portion of Ricketts’ salary this season and next as part of the deal. Specifics, as per league rules, were not released.
“We see (the trade) as a positive,” Wilkinson said. “Not all situations that are created are equal. (Ricketts) didn’t settle in Montreal from what we can see and what we’ve gathered.”
Ricketts was traded from the Galaxy to the Impact following last season.
His role in Los Angeles had diminished, in part because injuries and international duty for the Jamaican national team limited his availability.
A Major League Soccer All-Star in both 2009 and 2010 with the Galaxy, Ricketts was the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2010 when he had 11 shutouts and a goals-against average of 0.90.
Ricketts, 35, has made 89 appearances with the Jamaican national team. Between 2004 and 2008, he played in more than 100 matches for England’s Bradford City.
Rickets stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 210 pounds. Jake Gleeson, the Timbers 6-3 backup goalkeeper, described Rickets as “6-foot-a million. He dwarfs me, which is tough to do.”
Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury said Ricketts is a goalkeeper he has hated to play against.
“He’s a beast in the goal, and has been one of the best keepers in this league,” Jewsbury said. “So as hard as it is to see Troy go, we are excited to bring in Ricketts.”
Perkins was not available for comment. He said goodbye to the Timbers shortly before the team began its 10 a.m. practice in Beaverton, Ore. Jewsbury described Perkins as a good friend and the trade as a shock.
“One of those guys I have the utmost respect for,” Jewsbury said about Perkins. “He’s been a guy that has helped this club tremendously and has been a great asset for us. So it’s sad to see him leave.”