Union Spotlight: Meet Brian Perk

Posted on 22 January 2010 by Breton Bonnette

It was draft day and Brian Perk stepped out of his hotel to meet up with his father, nerves most likely fluttering as he prepared himself for the day that would decided his professional future in the U.S. Waiting for the rendezvous, Perk was blindsided by a cohort of chanting Philadelphia Union supporters, over 200 strong. Little did he know, he’d be shaking hands with those same supporters that night as he toured the city of Philadelphia as a new member of the Union. 

Even after that omen, Perk says landing in Philadelphia didn’t even cross his mind. As the first round concluded, then the second, then the third, the keeper simply wanted a home. A place to play what he loves. He knew he wanted a city, a place to explore, but “I had no clue. Philly is probably one of the last places I thought I’d end up because of the two guys they already had”. So at the start of the last round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, the 22-year old was blindsided yet again when Commisioner Don Garber announced, “And with the 49th pick of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, the Philadelphia Union selects from UCLA, goalkeeper Brian Perk”.  Initially, he didn’t know what to think. It was a tough situation in Philadelphia. Chris Seitz, who Perk backed up at the 2007 Under-20 World Cup, is the heavy favorite for the starting position. Brad Knighton was taken from the New England Revolution  in the expansion draft and looks set to be his back up. But simply put by the well-spoken 20-year old and starting goalkeeper for the US U-20s at the 2009 U-20s World Cup,  “when it gets to the fourth round, you just want to get drafted”. 

Perk understands the situation now and is genuinely happy to be heading to Philadelphia. He’s already looking at places to stay with fellow UCLA teammate, Kyle Nakazawa in and around Center City. He has time as his first few weeks with the club will be spent in a hotel and in Greensboro, NC for the start of preseason. He will also be joined in preseason by other Bruins, #6 pick Amobi Okugo as well as league veteran Jordan Harvey. To add to the three new Bruins, however, there are three other SuperDraftees in McInerney, Mwanga, and Stahl, all vying for a spot in the squad’s inaugural roster. “It’s very nice to come in with those guys. It’ll make the transition a lot easier. There will be a hierarchy obviously – we’re the rookies, so it won’t be too different. I feel like it’ll be a little bit different because we’re coming into a new situation and basically everybody is, people don’t know each other. I feel like we’ll all be a little closer because everyone is in the same boat”.

How strange is this goalkeeping situation though? The Union have made it clear that they’re focusing on youth but three guys all under the age of 26 vying for a starting position in which the general saying is ‘the older, the better’? “It’s unique. It’s something I’ve never really heard of. It’s either the old goalkeeper or the young one. That’s usually how most teams are structured but if you look at it, we’re all very similar personality-wise in the way we like to do things. Although, I might not get the number one job. The training is going to be very, very good and high. It’s only going to push us all of us I think”. The training he’s talking about, of course, will be supplied by well-regarded former Maryland goalkeeping coach Rob Vartughian. The training of the trio will inevitably foster some healty, interpositional competition. Two guys, Perk and Seitz, come into preseason with youth national team and major international experience while Brad had the only real run of Major League Soccer experience last season when he filled in for an injured Matt Reis. None of this fazes Perk. “It’s going to be a battle. I’m not naïve, I know that Chris [Seitz] is, as of right now, the clear favorite right to get the job. I’m not just going to put up the white flag and give up. That’s not the way I work.  I’m just going to come in, work hard, and see where things lead”.

Perk realizes that no matter where he goes, as a young keeper, it’s going to be a dogfight. He looked abroad, finding options in Spain and Belgium but with the lack of an EU Passport, interest stayed pretty thin and options limited. Major League Soccer swept in with a “pretty good” deal which he was excited to accept. That kept his eyes purely on the SuperDraft. Upon recollection of his first thoughts after the Union selected him, Perk stated, “I was certainly not as enthused as I am now. The closer we get to preseason starting the more excited I am”. He flies out on Sunday morning to join his teammates for physicals and meetings on Monday, set to start a new chapter with new goals. “I think it’s good to set your goals high. I would like to compete for the starting job. To get a few games and, you know, get a chance. And in order to do that for me, I have to train well. And again, it’s a tough situation but the only real thing I can do is work hard. That’s generally how I’ve always approached things. I feel like, you know, if I do that I’ll get a shot. I want to do well, win as many games as I can, get to the playoffs. We’ve got quality. We’re young, but the guys that I know that are on the team and everyone I’ve talked to are very excited. None of us are burn out on the team and that happens in some places”.

Adaptation is the key as a rookie in Major League Soccer and it’s clear Perk will embrace that. Coach Nowak seems to have found guys willing to do just that – identify the challenge and fight for what they want and what their new team wants. Dealing with the whirlwind of emotion and detail that comes post-Draft and preseason, Perk has finally realized…

“I’m happy Philly is the place I wound up”

If you like this, check out Breton’s other interviews and Q&As with Shea Salinas, Amobi Okugo, and Nick Zimmerman

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  1. Union spotlight: Chris Seitz, the 22-year old veteran | American Soccer News Says:

    […] you like this, check out Breton’s other interviews and Q&As with Shea Salinas, Amobi Okugo, Brian Perk and Nick Zimmerman Tagged as: Chris Seitz blog comments powered by Disqus var disqus_url […]

  2. Player Profile: Brian Perk | American Soccer News Says:

    […] Here is our article on Perk post-Super Draft. […]

  3. Player Profile: Brian Perk | American Soccer News Says:

    […] Here is our article on Perk post-Super Draft. […]

  4. The Philly Soccer Page » Blog Archive » Temple product joins Union, other news of the day Says:

    […] ASN talks with Union draft pick Brian Perk. […]

  5. The Philly Soccer Page » Blog Archive » Temple product joins Union, other news of the day Says:

    […] ASN talks with Union draft pick Brian Perk. […]

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