It may be where he played the bulk of his collegiate soccer, but D.C. United’s newest goalie will have his mind on other things when D.C. United and the Kansas City Wizards kickoff a fund-raiser at the USF Soccer Stadium.
Former Bulls captain Troy Perkins will return to USF hoping to cement a permanent contract with MLS club D.C. United. Perkins, who is on trial with the MLS side, said recent negotiations between his agent and the D.C. United president Kevin Payne had been positive.
United’s technical director, Dave Casper, confirmed the likelihood of Perkins joining the MLS side saying Perkins’s ability gave him a “very good chance” of securing a developmental contract.
Perkins, who quit the men’s soccer team unexpectedly after his junior season, was spotted by D.C. United at the MLS Combine, a showcase of the top 54 collegiate players held in Los Angeles. But first he had to go through the disappointment of missing out on the MLS draft.
“Nothing happened in the draft. My agent was shocked, a lot of people were shocked,” Perkins said. “But as a keeper, a lot of times you don’t get drafted. That’s just the way it is.”
But before the draft day was out, United had contacted Perkins’ agent to request that the Ohio-born keeper meet up with the team in Bradenton for preseason training on Feb 9.
“It’s really exciting. The first couple of days are the worst. You have jitters and nerves all about you. You really don’t know what to do as everything is flying by,” Perkins said. “The excitement doesn’t go away, but you start to settle in, to feel like you belong.”
Although Perkins criticized what he perceived as an overemphasis on recruiting during his last season with the Bulls, he credited men’s soccer coach George Kiefer with helping him find a place on the men’s soccer program at the University of Evansville for his senior year. Kiefer, who appointed Perkins as his team captain, said he was not surprised a MLS team had shown an interest in his former goalie.
“I was shocked that he didn’t get drafted,” Kiefer said. “I’m happy to hear they are picking him up. He’s definitely good enough.”
The return to USF, Perkins said, was an unexpected bonus.
“It’s exciting because it’s sold out. It will be a lot of fun to go back and play there,” he said.
With starting goalkeeper Nick Romando injured, Perkins will be competing for a starting spot during preseason with Doug Warren under the gaze of Mark Simpson, assistant coach for United, who is responsible for coaching the team’s goalkeepers.
“He needs to communicate more efficiently, but all the talents are there,” Simpson said. “His hands, his footwork, saving a ball; it’s all there. We’ll continue to work on his starting positions so his decisions become easier.”
Perkins said he knows he faces a lot of hard work to realize his ambition of starting. It is a challenge the former Bull said he has long prepared himself for.
“I always treated myself as ‘you are a professional.’ It’s really enjoyable. It’s a big relief that I have a chance to say my dream’s coming true,” he said.