Saunders ready to come off bench

Ricketts' understudy entered MLS Cup 2009 as sub

Three games into the 2010 season, the LA Galaxy own the league’s best
record, having gone a spotless 3-0.

Defense has been
instrumental as the Galaxy have yet to allow a goal. However, Galaxy
goalkeeper Josh Saunders has played no direct role in the club’s torrid
start, and he's not expected to play against Real Salt Lake on Saturday
either.

So, he’ll just go through yet another game with a prime
view of all the action. Maybe.

Or maybe he will be called into
action against RSL once more. After all, the last time these two clubs
met, Saunders played a huge role in the match despite starting out on
the bench. At MLS Cup ’09, starting ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts left the
game midway through the second half with a hand injury, and Saunders had
to go from watching the action up close to being part of the most
important game of his career.

“I just figured it was another
game,” Saunders said. “Just go in there, be calm and hope for the best.
That’s what I had to do.”

The best never materialized. Saunders
kept RSL off the scoreboard but the Utah club prevailed in penalty
kicks. Saunders did save a pair of spot kicks, though, as it took RSL
seven rounds to win.

“Not good enough,” Saunders said when
asked about his performance in the match. “One more save, we would have
been champions. I felt I did a relatively decent job. I wish I could
have made that one more save because it would have made us MLS Cup
champions. You’ve got to take that with a grain of salt, build on it and
hope for another MLS championship this year.”

Has Saunders
since watched highlights of the match?

“I watched it once and I
couldn’t watch it again," he admitted. "I got sick to my stomach. It
was tough to watch, the whole time I was going through it was so
emotional but I only watched it the one time.”

The match served
as a positive learning tool, however. The knowledge that he can step
into a game the magnitude of MLS Cup should provide Saunders the comfort
that if he were to enter another match in the middle of the game that
he could respond just fine.

While he is the firm backup,
Saunders never mentally takes games off.

“You have to go into
every game like you’re playing, even though you’re not starting, and
always thinking that you are going to play,” Saunders said. “When
[Ricketts] is on the field, just mentally stay with it and be prepared
to enter at any moment.”