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January 26, 2017
Saunders, Diskerud given permission by NYC FC to find new teams for 2017

Josh Saunders is trying to find a new soccer team for which to play.
Josh Saunders is trying to find a new soccer team for which to play.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Michael Lewis Editor

Josh Saunders and Mix Diskerud are not in New York City FC preseason training camp because they have been given permission to find new teams, head coach Patrick Vieira said Thursday afternoon.

Saunders, a veteran goalkeeper, and Diskerud, a U.S. international, are not in the Major League Soccer team's plans for the upcoming season, Vieira added.

"I don't want to go into detials, but obviously Mix and Josh are not here," Vieira said in a media conference from Jacksonville, Fla. "I gave them a few more days to try to find a solution on the next step for them because we are talking about two players who have good experienced at the internatinonal level, especially for Mix, in the league for Josh.

"Both players want to play and I think they will not be guaranteed [playing time] at New York City. I gave them an extra few weeks to try to find a soltuion, a solution that as a club we will be happy and then the players will be happy. All parts can be satisfied and then we can move on."

Saunders, who turns 36 on March 2, had started the first 33 games of 2016 season, helping City to a second-place finish to the Red Bulls in only their second year of existence. In the regular season finale, Saunders was benched in favor of Eirik Johansen, who started both playoff losses to Toronto FC.

It certainly was a surprising development considering Saunders only missed two games in the team's first two years.

Asked had Saunders fallen out of favor with him, Vieira replied, "I think it will be too long to go into the details. I make the squad, I make the roster. I go into the individuals. I look at the part of the team. I look at the players at what they acheived last year and I look at the options of what we have and I make a decision.

"This is responsbility and my job as well to make some tough decisions. Of course it was a really tough decision for me last year to leave Josh out. People could say it was right or people could say it was wrong. Everybody is open to their opinion and I respect everybody's opinion. I have to make a decision and we signed a new goalkeeper and this is the reason why we decided at the football club that it would be better for Josh to try to find another team where he can play more often than he would be playing in New York."

Saunders posted a 1.70 goals-against average and eight shutouts in 2016, while forging a 14-10-9 mark.

That new goalkeeper was Sean Johnson, a former Chicago Fire player who was acquired in a trade with expansion Atlanta United in December.

Diskerud, 26, endured a tough 2016, falling out of favor with the U.S. national team and his club team. He was an invisible man for most of the season at Yankee Stadium.

During the conference call, it was brought up by a reporter that Diskerud had been training with a team in Norway, but Vieira said he did not think so "because he is under contract with us."

"I just gave him a few days to try to find a way to play a little bit more often with a team and then we have to speak with Claudio [Reyna, sporting director] and find out because if he doesn't find a team -- he is under contract with us -- he will have to come back. So we have given him a few days to try to find a way to find a team to play a little bit more."

Diskerud, a member of the 2014 U.S. World Cup team that did not play a minute in Brazil, started 12 games for the Blues last year, playing in nine while recording a goal and two assists over 812 minutes.
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