A Goalie You Can Bank On
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Troy Perkins has almost reached the bank of elevators before he remembers the good news. It's Thursday. Doughnut Day.
It's yet another reason D.C. United's starting goalkeeper is happy to be arriving at his second job in a Tysons Corner office park, where the many perks include a crash course on the mortgage industry, a bit of extra money to supplement his soccer income and, on Thursdays, doughnuts that Perkins promises are "unbelievable."
Perkins, 24, has the lowest goals-against average in MLS. He has played every minute of every game for a United side in the midst of its best streak in franchise history. The previous afternoon, he had been named to his first MLS all-star team.
Now, he walks into his office at the First National Bank of Arizona, greets his co-workers, logs on to his computer and settles in for his initial task of the afternoon: an employment verification phone call.
"It's very weird," admitted Sean Wathen, one of Perkins's supervisors and a budding United fan. "You're like the bad-ass starting goalie -- it's like being the quarterback for the best team in the NFL. Ask that guy to do a verification of employment, and he'd freaking shove it down my throat. But he has no arrogance about him at all."
To be sure, there are financial incentives behind the 20 to 25 hours a week Perkins spends creating customer files, verifying information about borrowers and collecting W-2 forms, bank statements and Social Security cards. Just two years removed from a developmental contract that paid him $850 a month, Perkins earns a base MLS salary of $29,400. Many of the Chelsea players Perkins will face in the All-Star Game next month earn more in a week.
But there are plenty of underpaid MLS players and few mortgage loan processors, and so there are other motivations that send Perkins on his daily commute in a bright red Mini Cooper. He wants to be prepared in case an injury prematurely ends his athletic career. He wants to have a life outside of soccer; last year he coached a youth team and was turned off by overly competitive parents with unrealistic expectations for their children. He wants to understand the mortgage market, which is why he now speaks easily about debt-to-income ratios and loan-to-value ratios and forms 1003 and 1008.
And what do his teammates make of all this?
"He's definitely his own breed of guy," said forward Alecko Eskandarian, Perkins's former roommate. "He's just out there, man. He's different."
Want proof? Perkins finished his humanities degree at South Florida by doing independent research on the lives of Venetian women during the Renaissance. He currently is studying the poet Robert Bly in his spare time; "kind of diving into the male psyche and all that kind of stuff," he said. He reads and discusses the Wall Street Journal with fellow goalkeeper Ryan McIntosh, and offers advice on home electronics and cellphones and mortgage rates to teammates, who consider him the ultimate font of random information. The Ohio native cooks almost all his own meals, specializing in Southern food with the help of an autographed copy of "Good Grits: Southern Boy Cooks."
And then there's the yachting thing.
"I mean, sometimes he comes in here with boating attire, Velcro-strap shoes with some khaki pants and a polo shirt, like he's coming from the yacht club," midfielder Brian Carroll said.