Saves Best in
By Will Kuhns
D.C. United goalkeeper Scott Garlick made eight saves in yesterday's MLS Cup '97, more than he made in any of the four playoff games preceding the final, but he made most of them look easy.
Although the Colorado Rapids generated scoring chances throughout the game-won by United, 2-1, at RFK Stadium-most of their shots went right into Garlick's chest. Six shots went wide or high.
"I think I played a sound game," Garlick said. "I don't give myself all the credit, but a goalkeeper's job can be hard or easy, depending on how he makes it and, if you position yourself decently, sometimes things go your way. You have to give credit to the 10 players in front of me because they were absolutely outstanding."
Garlick won the starting job during the playoffs over Mark Simpson and Tom Presthus.
Yesterday was his second-highest save total in 18 games he played this season. He had nine in a 2-1 win against New York/New Jersey in the fourth game of the season.
United controlled the first five minutes of the game, earning four corner kicks before the Rapids' first shot-a well-struck 25-yarder from midfielder Chris Henderson that zipped a foot wide of the low right corner.
In the 14th minute, Colorado defender Steve Trittschuh was unmarked in front of the United goal, but his five-yard header went into Garlick's midsection.
Six minutes later, Garlick encountered a tough situation. Rapids forward Steve Rammel got behind United's last defender, Carlos Llamosa, on a pass from Marcelo Balboa. Garlick charged from his line and as Rammel touched the ball wide, he slid fouled him. Referee Brian Hall issued a yellow card to Garlick, who might have saved a goal with the foul.
During the rest of the first half, Colorado had three shots. Balboa, David Patino and Chris Henderson each sent a low shot from outside the penalty area that Garlick dived straight forward to stop.
"I don't remember the last time I saw a game where that many shots went right to the goalkeeper," Colorado Coach Glenn Myernick said.
United Coach Bruce Arena attributed the easy-looking saves to Garlick's positioning. In the second half, Garlick was forced to come off his line several times to grab or punch away crosses put into the penalty area.
"As the year has gone on, Scott has done a great job, not only making saves, but coming off his line," Arena said. "To me, that has been his greatest improvement in the last half of the season."
The Colorado goal came from a wide angle, but Adrian Paz powered a half-volley into the top left corner of the net.
The most spectacular chance of the day for either team came in the 71st minute, when Balboa connected on a cross from Paz with an acrobatic bicycle kick. Garlick fell to his right and smothered it.
"It was a real good effort, but thankfully it was pretty close to me," Garlick said. "I saw him winding up for it, but I had no idea where it was going to go."
Wolde Harris, Henderson and Balboa again hit shots from outside the penalty area to the center of the goal in the second half.
"Scott has a great attitude and has worked very hard to get better," Arena said. "A lot of people said [goalkeeping] was a weakness for our team. I think Scott proved otherwise during the playoffs."
© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company