"Perkins, Perkins! Give us a wave!" The loud booming chant by the Timbers Army was heard well enough by Troy Perkins as he wandered over to his net by the Timbers Army. After about 15 seconds, Perkins glanced over his shoulder and gave a small wave... From my view in section 108, I would say that Perkins' wave was almost reluctant. After all, this was not supposed to be friendly territory anymore and the Timbers Army are supposed to root for the Timbers, unless your name also happens to be Troy Perkins.
I've always been fascinated by the Troy Perkins saga and why the Timbers Army (and indeed Timbers fans in general) have taken him up as a hero of sorts for the club. It's my personal view that there are very few heroes that the club legitimately has through the years. Scot Thompson, for one. Clive Charles? Yep, though perhaps mostly for his efforts in Portland after his career. Troy Perkins?
That's not to say anybody was actively rooting for the Montreal Impact to win, I don't believe that, but Perkins certainly wasn't being jeered like many other goalkeepers in MLS are when they come to Jeld-Wen.
I have a theory on why Perkins is so popular, however, and why his Portland legacy has been kept alive by so many. It all boils down to a single man: Gavin Wilkinson.
Last year was a tough one for Timbers fans. From losing games consistently, to John Spencer being fired, it was a rough year for many. And then Troy Perkins was traded. A player who, during all this turmoil, was thought to be a permanent fixture. To make it worse? Gavin Wilkinson made the error in indirectly calling him a bad keeper when praising Donovan Ricketts. From that point on, everything that went wrong with the season, and Gavin Wilkinson went into building up the legacy Perkins had left in Portland.
In some ways, I feel like some see Perkins as a martyr. That he was traded for standing up to or speaking out of line to Gavin Wilkinson. I don't believe that's true, but it certainly feels like others do.
Regardless, it was an odd feeling when, after the final whistle blew, the Timbers Army began chanting, not for any of their players, but once again for Troy Perkins. It was clear who the hero was Saturday night and it was nobody donning a Timbers crest.
UPDATE: I do apologize for people who feel like I'm casting blame on fans. Perhaps I was a bit harsh on Perkins in my assumption and theory. My intent was not to try and belittle anybody or their motives, but to have a discussion on why Perkins was so popular here. I can see how this article could have been misread, however, as such I've removed some portions of it that was not part of my intentions.