- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Former Maryland Terrapins star Noah Palmer is expected to make his professional debut tonight against D.C. United at RFK Stadium.

With four of their goalies injured, the Columbus Crew acquired the 23-year-old Palmer last week from Real Salt Lake, where he never played.

“He’s a good goalie who has taken a lot of hard criticism because of Maryland’s final four outings,” said United midfielder Dominic Mediate, a teammate of Palmer at Maryland. “It will be a big test for him because he’s with a brand new team and he will be nervous.”

Palmer, who is Maryland’s all-time shutout leader with 34, was in goal for the Terps in the national semifinals three straight years. In 2002 and 2003, Maryland lost on penalty kicks. In 2004, Palmer gave up a goal with 48 seconds left in double overtime.

The Crew have six goalies on their roster. Backup keeper Jonny Walker is on the season-ending injured list, while starting goalie Jon Busch is out for the season with a torn right ACL, suffered on May 20 in a 1-1 tie with United. Two other goalies, Bill Gaudette and Andy Gruenebaum, have broken hands.

The Crew also added goalie Dan Popik two days ago.

Meanwhile, United’s goalie situation has improved. Nick Rimando is now healthy and coach Peter Nowak must decide whether to stay with Troy Perkins, who leads the league with a 1.00 goals against average and has two shutouts.

Palmer is not the only former Terps player on the Crew roster. The Columbus offense is led by Jason Garey, who helped Maryland win its first national title last year. Garey has one goal in seven games for Columbus and leads the team in shots on goal (five). He had a hat trick in the Crew’s 4-1 exhibition win over the Michigan Bucks last week.

“Jason is a good player up top and holds the ball well,” Mediate said. “He’ll make some great runs into the box.”

Coming off an impressive 3-1 win at the Kansas City Wizards, United (5-1-3, 18 points) sits comfortably on top of the Eastern Conference with a five-point lead.

Columbus (3-3-2, 11), which didn’t play over the weekend, is unbeaten in its last three games.

Notes — World Cup-bound Ben Olsen is back in town to prepare for the U.S. team’s trip to Germany, and there will be a ceremony for the United midfielder at halftime tonight. … United striker Jamie Moreno has been named MLS Player of the Week for his two goals in the win at Kansas City. … United has confirmed it will play Scottish champion Celtic FC at RFK in a July 12 exhibition game.

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