Galaxy Insider Player Ratings: Josh Saunders
The LA Galaxy season may be over, but LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano will spend the next few weeks offering an evaluation of each member of the squad. VIEW CALENDAR
The LA Galaxy Player Ratings will begin with players who appeared in the least number of games this season starting with goalkeeper Brian Rowe and concluding with Sean Franklin who played in all 34 of the club’s regular season games. There will also be an evaluation of head coach and general manager Bruce Arena and his moves at the conclusion of the list.
We will have two to three evaluations per day and focus on what each player did well, what they need to improve on ahead of next season as well as a select thought from the player on their performance and a rating from myself out of four stars.
APPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS: GP: 36 [6 in MLS Cup Playoffs, 3 in CONCACAF Champions League], MIN: 3240, GAA: 1.33 [2.00 in CCL, 1.33 in MLS, 1:00 in Playoffs], GA: 48 [6 in both MLS Playoffs and CCL], SV: 106 [8 in both MLS Playoffs and CCL], SO: 10 [1 in MLS Playoffs], RECORD: 22-9-5 [4-2-0 in MLS Playoffs, 1-1-1 in CCL]
RESERVE LEAGUE APPEARANCES: GP: 2, MIN: 180, GAA: 1.00, GA: 2, RECORD: 2-0-0, A: 1
WATCH: Saunders saves Cummings' PK
HIGHLIGHTS: Saunders seminal moment came during LA’s 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids on April 21 as he made a stoppage time save on an Omar Cummings penalty kick. Even though the moment came in April, had Saunders not made the save, the Houston Dynamo, not the LA Galaxy, would have hosted MLS Cup. Upon his return from Major League Soccer's substance abuse and behavioral health program on June 17, Saunders was at his best as the Galaxy went 19-6-4 in all competitions with Saunders between the pipes eventually culminating in LA’s second straight MLS Cup championship. By the end of the calendar year, Saunders had set career-highs in saves, wins and shutouts while posting an impressive 1.33 goals against average.
LOWLIGHTS: Saunders missed seven games during the regular season while completing MLS’ Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program. During that period, the Galaxy went 0-5-2 and slumped to the foot of the Western Conference. During the postseason, Saunders showed an impressive ability to bounce back from adversity as he responded after allowing a late goal to San Jose Earthquakes defender Victor Bernárdez in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinal with a string of solid performances including a five save performance in LA’s MLS Cup victory.
HIS THOUGHTS: “I’ve grown a lot. When you go through tough times then you learn a lot about yourself. On the field, we went through some tough times and there were some other outside aspects too. I’ve become more of an adult I feel like and more like a leader in many different ways than just as a soccer player.”
RATING: FOUR STARS
After three seasons as a backup and an injury replacement, Saunders settled into the role of LA’s number one goalkeeper well in 2012 as he helped the LA to a second MLS Cup title. After his return from the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program, Saunders’ teammates lauded the goalkeeper’s return for providing a valuable emotional lift that ultimately helped LA during their midseason push to the postseason. Saunders’ status with the club is one of the most important questions for the Galaxy this offseason. Head coach and general manager Bruce Arena has repeatedly stated that the club is in contact with Saunders about a return, but no decisions have been made as of this time.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com