24 May 2006

In Defense of the Defense of Troy Perkins

Troy Perkins should be the starting keeper for DC United.

I'm not saying that Perkins starts every match from now until season's end, or that Rimando shouldn't be able to compete for the job. Yet I will say that I believe that over the past eight games, Troy Perkins has played capably and dutifully, and that his performance makes him an above average keeper in today's Major League Soccer.

The job of a keeper, first and foremost, is to keep the ball out of the net. Organization of the defensive line helps that job, and strong distribution is a bonus. But neither matter a whit compared to keeping the ball out. In eight games, Troy has allowed eight goals. Those goals are enumerated below:

  1. Youri Djorkaeff's free kick (April 2, 2006)
  2. Edson Buddle's hitting the muffed save (April 2, 2006)
  3. Djorkaeff slotted shot (April 22, 2006)
  4. Ronnie O'Brien's shot from distance (April 29, 2006)
  5. Kirovski's penalty (May 7, 2006)
  6. Hernandez from Cooke (May 7, 2006)
  7. Victorine's penalty (May 13, 2006)
  8. Ngwenya's counter (May 20, 2006)
Of those eight goals, Troy should be excused for, if nothing else, the two penalities and Djorkaeff's free kick. That's five goals where Troy may have made a mistake to enable a goal, either through decision making, reflexes, or positioning.

In MLS now there are damn few top quality keepers who will only allow in the "impossible to stop" goals. The best you can reasonably hope for is a competent keeper that gets the job done. Troy has done that this year. You may be able to directly fault him for one or two goals, but aside from Buddle's goal I see few instances where one can say that all, or even most of the blame, is Perkins. Yes, he has merited some censure for many of those goals, but so did the defense and midfield for allowing breakaway counter attacks. In eight games, only once has Perkins given the other team a goal. In that same time frame, I believe DC's opponents have given them many more goals (Eskandarian's second against New York, when Tony fell down, comes to mind. You can make an argument for Gomez's goal against Columbus as well. And that's with me thinking for only a few seconds.)

Folks, DC has the best GAA in the East, and that's with some defensive lapses noted here and in numerable other places. So don't tell me that Perkins hasn't done his share of the work, or that the defense is somehow making him look better than he is. (The holding midfielders I might believe, but not the back line). Perkins has carried his share, or more, of the load. He deserves the job. If he starts to falter, then Rimando is there. But at this point, Perkins is the man, and rightfully so.


At 24 May, 2006 14:41, Blogger rwhgeek said...

Amen Brother. I was nervous at the start of the season but the GAA speaks for it's self. DCU fans seem to latch on to an opinion of a player and never let it go, i.e. Perkins sucks, Marco is a God and all other viewpoints are without merit. I have no such bias unless you count my belief that Richie Williams was the best defender ever to be in MLS.

At 24 May, 2006 15:09, Anonymous blackdogred said...

They don't beat KC unless Perkins plays best game of his career. (And KC doesn't miss sitters.)

At 24 May, 2006 15:11, Anonymous bdr said...

Oy, I meant they don't beat KC a couple of weeks ago unless....

Though probably true of this Sat too.

At 24 May, 2006 15:37, Anonymous GUTuna said...

and after Reis got shelled last week Perkins leads the league in GAA.

At 24 May, 2006 16:04, Anonymous BigKris said...

Sure, Perkins hasn't let in many, but the devil's advocate position would say, he hasn't faced many either. Tell me about a really difficult (well-struck, well-placed) shot where Perkins truly "saves" a goal. One that makes the opponent's fans say "ooh, I thought for sure that was a goal but Perkins stood on his head"
I think this is especially valid because you've used the argument that DC's opponents have let in a comparable number of soft goals over the past 8 games, but the corrolary to that is that DC's opponents have also stolen points from us with unexpectedly stellar goalie play. I haven't seen the corresponding stuff from Perkins.

At 24 May, 2006 16:11, Blogger D said...

BDR: And personally, I thought Houston was Perkins best game so far...

BigKris: The soft goals argument I would make is that we've gotten far more soft goals than we've given. As for Perkins not being stellar, I can think of saves against both Kansas City and Houston which were pretty damn good (wasn't there a Cerritos header that he had to instantly react to in order to get?) But then again, I really don't want stellar. I want dependable. I think we've got that. I'd rather have dependable keeping that has a lower peak then unpredictable keeping with the chance someone might stand on their head.

At 24 May, 2006 17:21, Anonymous SE Podcast said...


KC doesn't miss sitters? Did they cut Scott Sealy?

At 25 May, 2006 02:18, Anonymous Matt said...

I'm a keeper and still play at a high amateur level...so I'll always be hard on keepers...hope no one is still feeling sore about me being tough on Perkins/Rimando.

Perkins has done well when one looks at his body of work and considers his age/lack of experience.

The way DC defends and limits the opponents ball possession makes it also difficult for a young keeper since chances to make an impact are limited...concentration and patience are the key...something most young Gk's struggle with.

Really...if we are all honest with what our expectations were at the start of the season...we should all be quite pleased with his performance.

Yes D is correct...that a keeper's job is to keep the ball out of the net, but that's a very simplistic way to judge a keeper's value/performance.

I judge a keepers performance by how many soft goals they give up vs. excellent saves and faultless goals vs. goals where the GK could have done better...or shares blame.

I don't have a ratio for you all..but I'm sure that's a real boring topic that only keepers would enjoy talking about.

And...a soft goal to me...may not be to a non-keeper.

Perfect example...GK could have caught a cross...but punches it out of bounds for a corner. That corner results in a goal...GK's fault in my mind...

Perkins goal allowed vs. Columbus was shared blame because he came way out without getting the ball coupled with the fact that he had defenders tracking back and the striker was wide of the goal and couldn't have scored unless he hits an unbelievable shot or beats a defender or two that have tracked back

Also in that same game (or was it KC??) he came out late (again attacking a player that was yes in the box, but at a wide angle from the goal) and took a guy out. Clear PK..but the ref didn't call it. That could have cost us the game.

A keeper's goal (really no pun intended) should be to make the opponent earn every goal...and not give away anything.

DC should DEFINATELY stick with Perkins, but he needs to be coached on how to let the defense make plays in front of him...maybe be less aggressive...and for all you Rimando lovers out there.... is there a better backup in the MLS?...no way...

Nicky is great coverage for Perkins...

Oh and to complement Perkins.... many young GK's would have been finished after giving up the trash goal vs. Red Bull in the first game. He recovered real nicely...which is a testament to his toughness

At 25 May, 2006 09:28, Blogger Blackdogred said...

se podcast,

I meant the sentence to mean, DCU doesn't win if Perkins doesn't play well and if KC hits their sitters.

I can see the ambiguity in that sentence. Teach me to proof read before hitting the publish button.


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