Ricketts joins Timbers camp, will make debut next week
BEAVERTON, Ore. — Donovan Ricketts knows replacing Troy Perkins won't be easy.
The Portland Timbers’ former goalkeeper, who was sent to Montreal early this week in a trade for Ricketts, was a fan favorite and a team leader.
But Ricketts knows just how to win over Timbers faithful: get results.
"You don't expect be taken in immediately," said Ricketts, who worked out with his new team for the first time Friday at the club's training facility. "I'm not here to take anything away from Troy, he did a lot for this club, and it's good the fans love him. That shows you have a loyal support, and hopefully I play into their hearts and it's the same. So I wish Troy all the best there is, and I'm a Timber now so I'm looking forward to my experience here."
After the training session, with team owner Merritt Paulson looking on, Ricketts addressed the media about his latest chapter in a long and storied career. The 6-foot-4 Jamaican international talked about the crash course of getting to know new teammates, digesting a new system and the high-profile goalkeeper swap that resulted in his cross-country move to the Pacific Northwest.
Ricketts is expected to be in the net for the Timbers' next game on Aug. 15 at Toronto FC. And he said getting on the same page in a short amount of time will be his biggest short-term challenge.
"You've got to learn how everyone plays, and you've got to adjust accordingly," Ricketts said. "You've got to get on the same page with everyone else, so that's the most difficult part. But when you play with good teammates and good players the transition is always easier. Sometimes it takes a few matches, sometimes a few practice sessions and sometimes an entire season. But let's hope it's not an entire season."
Interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson certainly echoed that sentiment.
"Our opinion is that he will settle in very quickly," Wilkinson said. "He looked the part today in training, already starting to learn the players' names and starting to boss them about, which is a positive for a goalkeeper."
Ricketts also showed off an infectious personality, joking with reporters and boasting about the Jamaican Olympic team's 1-2-3 finish in the 200 meters Thursday night.
"When you get to my age, which is 21," the 35-year-old said with a smile, "you get to appreciate the game more. And it's a wonderful job. You come out here and enjoy yourself every day."
And much like every player newly acquired in Portland, Ricketts said he's eager to play in front of the famed Timbers Army and earn a log slice with his first shutout. He said whenever he could, he would catch the Timbers on TV and marvel at the raucous atmosphere.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the first cut of the timber, man," he said. "I need that. I'll be slicing a lot of wood. That's my loyal support right there. I'm new in town, so just show me a good time. ... When you play soccer, you dream for that kind of atmosphere. So I'm looking forward to it."
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.