KeyBank Match-up of the Match: Troy Perkins vs. William Hesmer
Frequent MLS Save of the Week nominee.
These are all adjectives and statements that apply to Portland Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins who almost single-handedly stole three points for the boys in green last weekend in Chicago. With numerous acrobatic saves, Perkins kept the Chicago attack at bay and proved once again just how essential it is to have an imposing presence between the pipes.
But those adjectives above could also easily apply to Perkins’ counterpart this weekend: Columbus Crew’s William Hesmer.
While the two won’t come into much contact on the field of play on Saturday (5:00pm PT, Fox 12, estrellaTV 8.3, 750 AM The Game, La Pantera 940), it is their importance to their two squads that brings us to Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up of the Match.
KeyBank Match-up of the Match
Like Perkins, Hesmer has been a near constant in this season’s MLS Save of the Week nominees. Though he hasn’t won one this season, he was a finalist for the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2008 in the Crew’s run to winning the 2008 MLS Cup and has long been considered one of the league’s top ‘keepers,
His stability in the back--Hesmer's played every minute of the 2011 MLS season for the Crew--combined with a tough defensively sound side has been critical to the Crew’s ascendency to 3rd position in the Eastern Conference. While Columbus has only scored only 1 goal in the past four games, they still have four points to show for it. That ability to grind out results and points from tight gritty matches goes a long way to keeping a squad in the hunt for the postseason.
After an early season injury kept him out of the lineup, Perkins has since become one of the most consistent performers in the Timbers’ back. He’s worked tirelessly in helping direct a defensive line that has had numerous changes—some due to injuries, some to head coach John Spencer trying to find the best backline combination.
While some may worry that having a high number of SOTW nominations for Perkins may point to questions about the defense being out of form and thus letting too many shots come through, it would seem that it is better to have a goalkeeper in form with a defense momentarily out of it than an alternative of having both goalkeeper AND defense out of form at the same time.
A high quality goalkeeper can always help keep you competitive. Both Portland and Columbus know this which is why Saturday’s match will come down to how well the two backstop adversaries will perform. Should Perkins continue his run of form and a newly reinforced backline help lend a hand, then the Timbers may be looking at continuing a theft of points on the road.