Kick to face leaves Timbers goalkeeper Perkins’ status uncertain

Goalkeeper hopes to return for Saturday’s match

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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PORTLAND -- The Portland Timbers began the process Tuesday of picking up the pieces from Saturday’s discouraging performance at Montreal.

Goalkeeper Troy Perkins was glad simply to be in one piece.

Perkins suffered a gash to his nose on Saturday when the foot of Montreal’s Sanna Nyassi missed the ball and caught the sliding goalkeeper squarely in the face. The force whiplashed Perkins’ head back and sent blood spilling from the keeper’s face.

“I saw it coming. I saw him stick his foot in. It allowed me to prepare a little bit for it,” Perkins said. “But I just didn’t expect that kind of impact. I honestly expected him to try and pull out and maybe get the top of my head or something but not straight on.”

It was a scary play to witness, one that Timbers coach John Spencer said deserved more punishment than the yellow card Nyassi received.

“For me, (Nyassi) was nowhere near the ball and that is a straight red card,” Spencer said. “I think (Perkins is) very lucky not to have lost an eye, to be honest with you.

“I don’t think (Nyassi) is a dirty player, but that was a bad challenge.”

Spencer said Perkins’ status for Saturday’s match against Columbus at Jeld-Wen likely won’t be determined until the day of the game.

Perkins, who said he’s watched the collision a number of times, feels fortunate that as of Tuesday there were no signs that he suffered a concussion.

“I’ve watched it several times. And I’m still amazed I’m able to walk and able to stand, and that I was able to walk off the field on my own power.”

In fact, Perkins said he asked to stay in the game.

“I didn’t realize that there was such a gash. Our trainer (Nik Wald) said he could fit his pinky in my nose. At that point I thought I just broke my nose and I was bleeding everywhere. I was just saying put something up there, stop the bleeding and I’ll get back in.”

If Perkins cannot play on Saturday, Spencer said that Joe Bendik, third on the depth chart, would again be called upon. Second-string keeper Jake Gleeson is still recovering from a knee strain.

Perkins said doctors used two tubes of surgical glue to put his skin back in place. While there likely will be a scar or two, Perkins -- who has experienced several foot-to-head collisions -- said he will not fear future contact.

“It’s skin. It’s soft tissue. It heals,” Perkins said. “The worst thing that can ever happen is you can’t play again. Anything else they can fix. As long as it’s that, you can move on.”

Only time will tell if Saturday’s loss to the expansion Impact will be more than a flesh wound to this Timbers’ season.

Portland has lost five of six. It has shown little swagger, and has struggled to create any offense.

Injuries have been part of the struggle. Spencer said that midfielder Kalif Alhassan is expected to miss several more weeks with his knee injury. Defender Steve Purdy suffered a concussion 20 minutes into the Montreal match and will be out indefinitely under MLS concussion protocol.

Notes

• Defender Steven Smith was able to make his Timbers debut at Montreal because the match was in Canada. He was back in England on Tuesday, working to get his visa.

• The Portland Timbers U-23s will play host to a U.S. Adult Soccer Association club in their first Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match on May 15, at Jeld-Wen Field. The opponent will be announced at a later date. Tickets cost $7 and go on sale May 8.