First off I’d like to wish the best to Troy Perkins. Thank you for everything you gave to our club. As one of the few players in the MLS bunch who truly understands what it means to play in Portland I wish you the very best in the rest of your career. Don’t forget about us because we won’t forget about you. I can’t wait to see you here again. When you hear us clapping off the team know that those claps are still directed at you as well.
Next I’d like to welcome Donavan Ricketts. You’ve got a great reputation and I’ve heard some very good things about you. Your resume is great and can’t be argued with. I wish you the very best of luck. It’s a hard situation to come in and replace a player with the class and respect of Troy Perkins. I don’t envy your position. If you conduct yourself with the same class and respect I’m positive you’ll be held in the same esteem Troy is now.
Obviously it’s a difficult thing losing players that mean something to the fans. I’ve heard some things said in the past 24 hours I find very troubling that don’t make things much easier.
“You know that you are going to get a hit form some people that it may not be popular with the fans, and rightfully so. I can understand that. Troy was a phenomenal person, a great human being, and a very good professional for us, but Ricketts is a very good professional, a great person, and, in my mind, a better goal keeper.”
This statement starts out fine and should have stopped before the “but.” Of course that’s where most of Gavin’s statements usually should stop. When he starts in with things like, “I don’t want to throw players under the bus, but.” When the but word comes out he should probably learn to stop talking. It would probably do wonders for the relationship with players.
I know there will be a lot of people out there telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about and to be fair I’m not going to give away sources. Let’s just say Twitter is a forum where many former players have accounts. When you see them retweet things and statements they make it’s pretty obvious of their opinions. One former player willing to go on record wrote this about Gavin. “My former coach and someone who I thought I knew very well but found out in the end I knew nothing about.” I can read between the lines in that statement. You should be able to as well. If it were just one player expressing that sentiment it would be an isolated incident, but it’s not isolated. It’s coming right and left from former players. It’s a giant big fat screaming glaring problem.
As far as coaching goes the last thing I want to hear about is two coach of the year awards at the USL level. To be fair 2007 was a good year but one year later the success couldn’t be replicated. How many minutes in a row did we go without a goal? Yes we had good years in 2009 and 2010 but we were playing with a loaded deck. The cream of the crop all wanted to play here for a shot at the MLS roster in 2011.
I’m not claiming to be the one to know the path moving forward on the pitch. I’ll leave that to others to speculate on. I can say one thing very plainly. Portland is a very different city than New York, L.A., and Columbus. The way we think and operate is very different than other cities and that reflects in the stadium and in the fans. If that isn’t recognized sooner rather than later I worry about what the future holds. If I had any advice I would give it would be to hire a consultant from St. Pauli to come here and then genuinely listen to them. Perhaps flying over there to see how things are set up would be worthwhile. Portland is far more St. Pauli than it ever will be London. It’s not called Little Beirut for nothing.
Operating a MLS franchise like an NBA team is not a good idea. The NBA acts the way it does towards fans because they have two or three generations of fans to lean back on. MLS needs to grow supporters culture and I see a lot of signs that the execs are getting a little ahead of themselves in thinking this is a mature league. It’s getting there. If you’d like an example of clueless management just look at Toronto. They had a 20,000 person ticket waiting list just a few years and now their stadium looks empty because they got a little ahead of themselves. I don’t want that to happen here.
Maybe Perkins leaving hurts so much because he connected with us and we connected with him. It wasn’t because he was just a goalie who had some quirks as has been ludicrously asserted. In the past there have been guys that played here that truly understood what playing here means. Byron Alvarez, Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, Scot Thompson, Ian Joy and Cameron Knowles come to mind. Those are players who will be remembered decades from now as club legends. Perkins was getting close to that level. In this season of disappointment he was making the comments you want to hear as a fan. He wasn’t saying things like, “we’re paid a lot of money and we’re professionals and we’ve got to pull it together.” That sounds like a mercenary. He was saying things like, “this affects me and it affects my family.” He openly talked about his passion for the game without making it sound like this was his job. When times are tough and the player who was well on his way to winning his second supporters player of the year award is traded away in a surprise move it feels like a sucker punch to the stomach.
I saw something Brent Disken mocked up on Twitter and thought it was very appropriate. I hope Troy sees it because all of us mean it.
**This is my personal opinion and does not reflect the feelings of the 107ist board. I speak for myself**