Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
By James Edward Deseret Morning News
Scott Garlick, projected to be Real Salt Lake's starting keeper in 2007, made a sudden decision to retire Tuesday, forcing the club into a frantic last-minute search to find a capable veteran replacement on the same day it trimmed its roster to 28 players.
The veteran keeper, known for his thick head of grey hair, informed the coaching staff of his decision Sunday evening in Orlando, Fla., citing the fact he is ready to pursue a non-soccer business opportunity.
"It definitely caught us by surprise. We respect their position and their right to move on in the next phase of their life," said Real coach John Ellinger. "We think the world of Scott and Holly and wish them all the best. We'll get through it."
Garlick, 34, spent 10 seasons in Major League Soccer with five different teams. In his lone season with RSL last year, he started 31 of 32 games and had a goals-against average of 1.41. Prior to joining Real, Garlick spent time with D.C. United, Tampa Bay, Colorado and FC Dallas. He won an MLS Cup with D.C. in 1997.
His decision leaves RSL scrambling to find an experienced keeper to help tutor 2007 first-round draft choice Chris Seitz, currently in Japan playing exhibition games with the United States Under-23 National Team.
With that said, Ellinger acknowledged that they're not going to let another MLS team "rake us over the coals because we're desperate."
Seitz was named the man of the match in Wednesday's 0-0 draw against the Japan U-22 National Team, just a week after blanking Chivas USA in an exhibition game in California. Seitz is good enough to probably start in MLS right away, but coaches would prefer to bring him along slowly. Plus, Seitz will miss at least a month this summer as he participates in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Canada.
"We're looking at some of our options and made some inquiries," said Ellinger.
It's very unlikely that a deal will be made before Real Salt Lake heads to Madrid, Spain, for two weeks of training on Feb. 26. More realistically, RSL will wait until the other MLS teams make their final roster moves on March 1, and see if a quality keeper is available after that.
One rumored replacement includes New York Red Bulls keeper Jon Conway.
To ensure that it still has three keepers in training camp until a veteran is identified, RSL has decided to keep second-year keeper Chase Harrison and rookie keeper Kyle Reynish. Until the Garlick development, RSL was planning on releasing one of the younger keepers on Wednesday.
Six other players weren't so lucky. As expected, Real trimmed its roster to 28 players on Wednesday, releasing Kevin Novak, Jared Kent, Scott Palguta, Haddon Kirk, Brian Gil and Jonathan Bramwell.
Real midfielder Andy Williams was not on that list, as he opted not to pursue more lucrative offers from the United Soccer League or a few European suitors.
The Novak announcement was definitely the most surprising. The second-year pro was thrust into the starting right back spot early last year, and anchored the position for 26 games. Fans, coaches and teammates alike marveled at his feistiness, which made the decision tougher for Ellinger.
"Kevin was fantastic last year, but there were some concerns with his physical condition," said Ellinger in reference to two offseason surgeries for Novak. "It's never easy, you become attached to these guys."
The same goes for Garlick, who was solid all last year.
Garlick was regarded as a consummate professional, but he had his limitations and made his fair share of mistakes. Real fans will probably never forget Garlick's horrific game at the Los Angeles Galaxy last July, or his penchant for occasionally getting beat near post. Nonetheless, he brought stability to a goalkeeping position that was a mess under D.J. Countess in 2005, and nearly helped RSL secure a playoff berth last year.
Real's 28-man roster is broken up into two parts, an 18-man senior roster and a 10-man developmental roster. The developmental roster is made up primarily of players age 23 and younger, including Generation adidas players. Here's a look at Real's finalized roster after Wednesday's cuts. More activity is likely, however, with the recent retirement of Scott Garlick.
SENIOR ROSTER (17 out of 18) DF — Willis Forko, Chris Lancos, Eddie Pope, Jack Stewart, Daniel Torres. MF — Freddy Adu, Mehdi Ballouchy, Kenny Cutler, Chris Klein, Jason Kreis, Carey Talley, Andy Williams, Joey Worthen. FW — Chris Brown, Jeff Cunningham, Atiba Harris, Luis Tejada.
SENIOR ROSTER PLAYERS RELEASED DF — Kevin Novak, Scott Palguta. MF — Jared Kent.
DEVELOPMENT ROSTER (11 out of 10) GK — Chris Seitz, *Chase Harrison, *Kyle Reynish. DF — Dustin Kirby. MF — Nik Besagno, Steven Curfman, Duke Hashimoto, Christian Jimenez, Jamie Watson. FW — Kyle Brown, Jeff Rowland.
DEVELOPMENT ROSTER PLAYERS RELEASED DF — Haddon Kirk. MF — Brian Gil, Jonathan Bramwell.
*Note: Either Harrison or Reynish will mostly be released when RSL signs a veteran keeper.