How Acquired: Signed by the Galaxy on March 12, 2009
The club’s unquestioned first choice in goal entering the season for the first time in his career, Saunders showed full well last season that he is up for the challenge of playing in goal for the Galaxy. A big and physical presence in goal, Saunders commands his box and is a vocal leader behind a Galaxy defense that continues to grow and improve. At his best last year in the postseason, he will look to continue that progression throughout the 2012 campaign.
2011: Recorded the best year of his MLS career, setting new career-highs in all statistical categories while establishing himself as the club’s top goalkeeper. He started the first three games of the season in place of the injured Donovan Ricketts, going 1-1-1 while keeping a clean sheet in the season opening 1-0 win at Seattle on 3/15. He returned to make three saves in a 4-1 home win over Sporting Kansas City before regaining the starting job on 6/3 when Ricketts left for international duty at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He was 1-0-2 in the three games that Ricketts missed before being forced to make his only substitute appearances of the season, replacing Ricketts after he was injured midway through the first half of the 0-0 draw at San Jose on 6/25. However, he was only on the field for 19 minutes before being shown a red card for the first time in his career following a clash with the Earthquakes Steven Lenhart. Following his suspension, Saunders started 11 of the Galaxy’s final 14 regular season games, going 9-1-1 in those matches and keeping six clean sheets. He finished the year with a 12-2-4 record, eight shutouts and a 0.93 goals against average, which was the second best in MLS behind only Ricketts. Saunders was also ever-present in the club’s Champions League run, playing every minute of their six games, going 4-2-0 with three shutouts while only allowing four goals in those matches. In the playoffs, Saunders allowed just two goals and made 11 saves in four games as he led the Galaxy to their first MLS Cup since 2005. 2010: Appeared in four games in all competitions, including one MLS game. He kept a clean sheet in the 0-0 home draw with Toronto FC on 5/15, making one save in place of the injured Donovan Ricketts. That shutout extended his run of not allowing a goal in MLS regular season play to 342 minutes. Saunders also played in both of the Galaxy’s Open Cup games in 2010, keeping a clean sheet in the 2-0 win over AC St. Louis in the Third Round and then making five saves in the 2-0 loss at Seattle in the Quarterfinals. He made his final appearance of the season in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Preliminary Round Series against Puerto Rico, a game LA lost 4-1. 2009: Set then-MLS career-highs across the board, appearing in six regular season games for the Galaxy, including four starts with a 1.08 goals against average. He made his 2009 debut in the season opening 2-2 draw vs. D.C. United on 3/22, also starting in the 3-2 loss vs. Colorado on 4/4. He made three saves in 120 minutes of action against the Rapids in a U.S. Open Cup Play-In Game on 4/7 for his first clean sheet as a member of the Galaxy. He kept another clean sheet in a friendly against CS Herediano of Costa Rica on 6/9, but missed the next two regular season games because of a right ankle injury. He returned to the bench for the 1-0 win vs. Houston on 6/28 and was back in the lineup on 7/4 vs. New England when Donovan Ricketts was away on international duty. Saunders tied a career-high with four saves in that game, earning his first shutout in MLS play in a 1-0 win. He helped the Galaxy earn another 1-0 win a week later on 7/11 at Chivas USA, making two saves. After allowing one goal in 45 minutes of action vs. AC Milan on 7/19, Saunders returned to the field at Kansas City on 7/25, replacing the injured Ricketts and not allowing a goal in 61 minutes of action. He then played the full 90 minutes in the friendly with Barcelona on 8/1, making five saves in a 2-1 loss. Saunders’ final regular season appearance came on 8/19 in a 2-0 win at Chicago, when he played the final five minutes after again replacing an injured Ricketts. In the postseason, Saunders was on the bench for all four of the Galaxy’s games, replacing Ricketts in the 66th minute after he suffered a broken hand. He made one save in his 54 minutes on the field and then made two saves in the penalty shootout. 2008: Made his MLS debut after being acquired by the Galaxy in September on loan. Saunders joined the club on 9/13 and made his debut on 10/2 in a 1-0 loss at Columbus. He also played in the 3-2 win vs. Colorado on 10/12 and the 3-0 loss at Houston on 10/18 to finish with a 1-2-0 record and a 2.00 goals against average. He also appeared in one Reserve Division game, surrendering two goals in a 2-1 loss to Chivas USA on 9/28. 2005: Won the MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup Double with the Galaxy, appearing in one Reserve Division game. 2003-04: Spent two seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes, winning the MLS Cup with the club as a rookie in 2003. However, he did not appear in any games for the club.
USL First Division Highlights
2008: Saunders enjoyed perhaps his best season in the USL, appearing in and starting 27 games before joining the Galaxy on loan in September. He kept 13 clean sheets in his 27 games, allowing only 33 goals on the season for a 1.22 GAA to go along with 95 saves. 2007: Spent the season with the Puerto Rico Islanders, appearing in 22 regular season games and keeping six cleans sheets while helping the Islanders reach the postseason for the second straight season. In the playoffs, Saunders led Puerto Rico to the first playoff series win in club history, keeping a clean sheet against Montreal at home to preserve a 5-3 aggregate victory. He made 71 saves and allowed just 26 goals in his 22 games with the club. 2006: Played in 22 games in his fourth and final season with the Timbers. Saunders tallied a 1.49 GAA with a 5-11-5 record and four clean sheets as they missed the playoffs. 2005: Started all 28 games on the season for Portland, collecting a 10-9-9 record with six clean sheets and a 1.50 GAA while leading his team to the First Round of the USL Playoffs where they were eliminated by Seattle 3-0 on aggregate. Played in 24 games for Portland, compiling a 16-5-2 record with six clean sheets and a 1.11 goals against average. He helped lead the Timbers to the postseason, only to be eliminated in the First Round 3-2 on aggregate by their rival, the Seattle Sounders. 2003: On loan from San Jose, he appeared in 16 games for the Timbers, allowing 15 goals for a 0.90 GAA. He went 10-4 2 in his time with the club, keeping six clean sheets.
Collected two caps for the Puerto Rico National Team while playing for the Puerto Rico Islanders. He played the full 90 minutes in a pair of wins over Bermuda in January 2008, helping Puerto Rico record 2-0 and 1-0 wins. Saunders made eight saves in the two matches, which were the first back-to-back wins for Puerto Rico since 1993.
Saunders split his college career between Cal State-Fullerton and the University of California, spending his first two years at Fullerton before transferring north to Berkeley. He was a two-year starter at Cal, earning First Team All-Pac 10 honors in each of his seasons with the Bears. As a senior in 2002, Saunders was named the Pac 10 Player of the Year, becoming the first goalkeeper ever to win that award.