Saunders reclaims Galaxy top spot with Ricketts away

Proven backup set to make 5th start against visiting D.C. United


Photo Credit: 
German Alegria / LA Galaxy

CARSON, Calif. — In the days leading up to Friday’s match against D.C.
United, LA Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders’ preparation has been no
different than any other week.

Save for the absence of the enormous No.1 ‘keeper, it may seem business as usual for the Galaxy goalkeeper.

But the towering Donovan Ricketts is gone, off with Jamaica for the
Gold Cup, and Saunders will now be entrusted in goal.

“You have to treat it the same way. It’s not like it’s
something exceptional or special," Saunders said. "My approach never really changes when
it comes game to game.”

Friday’s match was Saunders’ fifth start of the season. He last
filled in on May 14, when Ricketts was unable to play because of an
illness. Saunders helped the Galaxy to a 4-1 win and kicked off the
club’s current four-match winning streak.

Saunders didn’t learn until a few hours before kickoff that Ricketts
was not going to play in that match. But even knowing his fate a few
hours or considerably longer before matches, Saunders said he does not
change the way he goes about things.

“When you do that, you’re just putting too much pressure on yourself,”
Saunders said. “You’re just adding pressure to a situation where you
obviously want to win, so you’re not changing that approach at all.”

Saunders will once again play behind one of the league’s most
accomplished back lines. The task, as Saunders sees it, is simple.

“Just stay focused, keep them in tune,” Saunders said. “They’ve been
playing so well. It’s one of those things where you want to come in and
try and contribute.”

It helps that Saunders is comfortable and familiar with the defenders.

“You create a rhythm with these players, and even though you might not
be playing with them every game, it’s still just a rhythm,” he said.

Adding a little color to the DC match were Saunders’ gloves. The
Galaxy hosted Military Appreciation Night and as his own way of
paying tribute, Saunders wore specially designed camouflage gloves.
Saunders’ grandfather, father and uncle served in the military, so
wearing the gloves was extra special to him.

READ: Saunders supports troops with camouflage gloves

“It’s massive, it’s emotional,” Saunders said. “It’s one of those
things that doesn’t always get talked about. They’re protecting our
freedom and this is the greatest country in the world. I’d like to do a
little something for them.”