COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) – Joe Willis put on quite a show for friends who came to watch his return to Colorado.
Willis, a standout player for the University of Denver, left 22 passes for area friends and then displayed the skills he honed in college. Willis made seven saves to earn his first shutout, and D.C. United tied the Colorado Rapids 0-0 on Sunday night despite being blanked for the 12th time this season.
“I wanted to show them what I could do,” Willis said. “I wanted to make a good impression. I think it turned out to be a good return.”
D.C. United (2-13-4), the last-place team in the Eastern Conference, has scored an MLS-worst eight goals this year. Only three players in the starting lineup had goals in the previous eight games, all on penalty kicks.
Willis made several key stops – including one on Deshorn Brown’s breakaway in the 75th minute.
“Joe made a couple of big saves,” D.C. United coach Ben Olsen said. “Everybody did their part.
“Offensively, it wasn’t a great night, but that’s kind of who we are. To get results we have to put up zeroes, and we did that tonight.”
D.C. United is 0-6-3 on the road.
Colorado (7-7-6) had beaten the top two teams in the Eastern Conference in its previous two games. Clint Irwin had his seventh shutout of the season. The Rapids, shut out for the fifth time, failed to get back over .500 for the first time since they were 5-4-5 on June 1.
“We didn’t score goals,” Colorado coach Oscar Paraja said. “We had 23 attempts and none of them went in.”
Each goalie made sliding saves in the opening minutes of the second half. Willis stopped Brown, and Irwin denied Carlos Ruiz on a 2-on-1 break in the 53rd minute.
Willis came well out of the crease to stop Brown, and preserved the shutout with a save on a low line drive by Nick LaBrocca in the 89th minute.
Colorado sailed shots over the crossbar in the ninth and 12th minutes. Brown missed a wide open net in the 15th minute, and Willis made a two-handed catch of a shot by Dillon Powers in the 25th minute.
“The defense were really sagging back, but we still got shots,” Colorado defenseman Drew Moor said. “We had a lot of chances get away.”
D.C. United had a volley touched last by defender Ethan White in the 40th minute that required a save.
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