At ten o’clock Tuesday morning the Portland Timbers announced that Troy Perkins had been traded to Montreal for Donovan Ricketts.
In the wake of the trade, there has been speculation that the Perkins deal was only the first step of a major roster overhaul likely to take place over the course of the coming days and weeks. That speculation is buttressed by the fact that Merritt Paulson, who frequently comments on new acquisitions and major outgoing players, has remained silent throughout the day – suggesting he may be bunkered down with his consigliere and capos orchestrating such major overhaul.
While any major changes would doubtless be related to the team’s atrocious form of late, Paulson foreshadowed it a couple weeks ago when he – in a moment of honest twitter-induced frustration – suggested dissatisfaction with a number of moves made and not made under John Spencer’s managerial tenure. Paulson apparently feels if he had a wartime consigliere he wouldn’t be in this mess.
Any forthcoming roster overhaul, then, can be seen as a housecleaning of sorts. Whether ill- or well-advised, if it occurs it will likely represent Paulson, Gavin Wilkinson, and the remainder of the Timbers braintrust going Michael Corleone on the remnants of the John Spencer era.
So, in anticipation of the Timbers front office settling a few more scores in the coming days, and in the spirit of “The Godfather” Parts I and II, let’s talk about what has happened and what is to come by analogizing outgone and potentially outgoing Timbers with some of Mikey’s most notorious hits.
Troy Perkins: Hyman Roth – Like Roth, Perkins was a vital partner for the Timbers organization from the time of its first MLS kick until Tuesday morning. In 2011 he was named the Supporters’ Player of the Year. Perkins’ quiet intensity, experience, and consistency made him a mainstay in the lineup and a leader on the team.
In my view, it’s tough to see how the trade pencils out for the Timbers. At the outset it should be noted that Perkins was having a passable, but not fantastic season. While Perkins had only been primarily responsible for a relative handful of goals this season, he was not the hero his team needed, as evidenced by the 12 goals conceded in the brutal four game stretch that spanned just two July weeks.
Nonetheless, Ricketts’ season does not match the All-Star past the Timbers’ brass bragged about to anybody that would listen on Tuesday. While a 59% save percentage and 1.64 goal against average can be partially blamed on a dysfunctional Impact defense, Ricketts has been as mistake prone in 2012 as any point in his MLS career.
Additionally, the 35-year-old Ricketts also represents a doubling down on the Timbers’ young reserve goalkeepers. It is clear that the brass is now dedicated to handing the reigns to either Jake Gleeson or Joe Bendik within the next couple seasons.
Simply put, then, the Timbers traded a keeper of solid, if unspectacular, form for a keeper of very questionable form with a shorter expiration date and young, largely untested keepers behind him. All the while, the club further drained the already-shrinking reservoir of supporter goodwill.
The trade is made, however, so here’s hoping the change of scenery can help Ricketts recover some of his old form and lead the Timbers out of a pretty dark period. Like Roth, however, the once-trusty Perkins found the end of his Timbers days in unlikely fashion on Tuesday.
Kris Boyd: Virgil Sollozzo – Mikey’s first major hit was the muscle that protected the underbelly of the Tattaglia family that apparently spearheaded the effort to assassinate Vito Corleone. Perhaps nobody more closely represents the Spencer era than Boyd. And perhaps nobody has reacted as negatively to the end of Spencer’s reign as Boyd. Boyd was undoubtedly the most prominent piece of muscle brought in to help the Timbers make the jump in year two. While Boyd has had some success in leading the team with seven goals, his form after Spencer’s firing – with the exception of the LA Galaxy match – has been atrocious. This poor form makes it difficult to justify Boyd’s continued occupation of a designated player spot, a massive contract, and place in the striker rotation ahead of several younger, cheaper options. In what appears to be a season dedicated to a youth movement, it seems more and more likely that the once unthinkable may happen – Boyd may be shipped out before the end of his first season.
Steven Smith: Captain McCluskey – Michael famously knocked off Sollozzo’s crooked cop in the same veal-serving restaurant as The Turk. Like McCluskey, Smith is inextricably tied to Boyd as Spencer’s loyal countryman. After a promising start, Smith has consistently looked overmatched over the past two months, making numerous mistakes that led to concessions. Simply put, if the Timbers are to get such inconsistent play from their left back, they don’t want to pay six figures for it. Like Michael’s hit of McCluskey, it would be a bold move to send a new signing packing after three months on board, but ultimately Smith’s crooked form at left back would likely smooth over the public relations hit the Timbers family would take.
Eric Alexander: Salvatore Tessio – Once the likely heir to a Corleone spin-off family, Sallie Tessio was knocked off by Michael after it became clear that he had betrayed the family to Don Barzini. When Alexander arrived from Dallas many – including us at The Morrison Report – hailed him as the Timbers’ future somewhere in the midfield. Instead, Alexander has been the height of inconsistency since coming to Morrison Street. With any number of players now sitting above him on the depth chart on the wings, Alexander may well be shipped out before he further betrays his value.
Lovel Palmer: Khartoum – Yep, the horse whose head ended up spending the night in Jack Woltz’s bed. Palmer is analogized to Khartoum for one simple reason: Paulson will likely have to pull a similar trick to find anybody willing to take on Palmer.
Others Who Could Be Shipped Out
Okay, so I’m not clever enough to think of Godfather parallels for every Timber that could find a new home in the potential roster restructuring. So, here are three more guys who could go if a willing partner can be found.
Sal Zizzo – Pretty much in the same boat as Alexander. Probably not as valuable to trade partners, but also a little more expensive to keep. Hard to see Sal break into the lineup on the wings consistently, which makes him possible trade bait.
Mike Chabala – Another longtime Spencer guy who could be on the outs if a taker can’t be found for Smith. What Smith has on Chewy in talent, Chewy has on Smith in heart. They both make mistakes. Chabala also costs less than Smith.
Mike Fucito– Could have decent value for another guy that looks hopelessly buried on the depth chart. If Boyd goes, however, there could be a genuine competition to be the first striker off the bench, so don’t be surprised to see Fucito stay in such an instance.
 And yes, I fully acknowledge that this may not happen at all.
 I refuse to acknowledge the existence of any alleged additional installments of the legendary movie series.
 I decided to try to refer to myself in the third person plural. Not in love with it.
 Yes, Michael Corleone came into the family business after the Khartoum incident, but still, it’s a fun analogy.
 Euphemisms can be fun.