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January 27, 2017
NYC FC deals Saunders to Orlando, goalkeeper reunites with coach Jason Kreis

Josh Saunders was traded by New York City FC to Orlando City SC for a fourth-pround pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.
Josh Saunders was traded by New York City FC to Orlando City SC for a fourth-pround pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Michael Lewis Editor

Josh Saunders has been reunited with former New York City head coach Jason Kreis.

City Friday dealt the veteran goalkeeper to Orlando City SC for the team natural fourth-round pick in the 2019 Major League Soccer SuperDraft.

Kreis directed City in its expansion season in 2015 as Saunders was the regular keeper.

“Josh is a veteran MLS goalkeeper that will add championship experience, leadership and depth to our side with 125 appearances in 11 years in the league,” Orlando general manager Niki Budalic said. “Jason Kreis is very familiar with Josh from his time in New York and Real Salt Lake and is looking forward to working with him again.”

NYC FC head coach Patrick Vieira said Thursday that the Blues had allowed Saunders to find a club.

“It was a priority for us as a club to work with Josh to find him a team that he wanted to go to and I’m really happy that we’ve managed to find that solution together," Vieira said Friday.

“In the end, we reached a conclusion that suited both parties as he’s going to Orlando which is a club he wanted to be at. Myself and all of the coaching staff would like to thank Josh for his great contribution to NYCFC and wish him luck for the year ahead."

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.

Saunders' fate was sealed in December, when City acquired former U.S. international keeper Sean Johnson from expansion team Atlanta United.

“I’d like to thank Josh for his service over the last two years and wish him all of the best in this new chapter in his career," NYC FC sporting director Claudio Reyna said in a statement. As the starting goalkeeper in our first-ever game, his place in NYCFC history is assured and we’re grateful for his part in some of our most memorable moments since.

“We’re happy that we managed to find the right solution for him to play in 2017 and we know our fans will also want to wish Josh all of the best in his future endeavors.”

As one door closed, another opened for Saunders.

Saunders made 66 starts for NYCFC, posting 12 clean sheets and 221 saves. During NYCFC’s 2015 expansion season, Saunders led the league in saves (123).

He also played for Kreis at Real Salt Lake in 2013, making three starts. Saunders was the No. 1 goalkeeper for the LA Galaxy in its 2011 and 2012 MLS Cup runs. The California native made 18 starts in LA's Supporters’ Shield-winning 2011 campaign and posted two clean sheets in four playoff games. Saunders went on to start 27 games for the Galaxy in 2012 and played each of its playoff matches as they repeated as MLS Cup champions.

NYC FC will open its third MLS season at Orlando on Sunday, March 5.
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