This week’s player watch features goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who’s currently starring on loan for the NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions.
On Saturday, the Scorpions earned the first postseason win in team history by beating the New York Cosmos 2-1 in overtime Saturday night at Toyota Field. Saunders was spectacular in goal for San Antonio. After both teams scored within two minutes of each other in the first 20 minutes, the game remained deadlocked, forcing extra time.
The first extra time period finished scoreless. Five minutes into the second, the Scorpions benefited from a Carlos Mendes own goal to take a 2-1 lead. But New York turned up the pressure for the final ten minutes and came very close to drawing even once more in the 120th minute of the match, when they won a free kick about 25 yards from goal.
Marcos Senna, the former Spanish national team captain and a lethal dead ball sharpshooter, lined the kick up. His shot dipped and swerved viciously. However, Saunders made a world-class save to tip the ball over the crossbar and preserve the lead.
Asked about the prospect of playing for a title this week, Saunders was calm and measured. "I’ve played probably in seven different postseasons," said Saunders after training this week. "Obviously it is very difficult, you have to be concentrated every game." He continued: "Now, there is no room for error, no room for mistakes. You have to bring everything you have, especially with home field advantage."
A victory this coming Saturday would earn the Puerto Rican international his seventh trophy, and would make perhaps the only player to have won a trophy at every level of American professional soccer. He won two MLS Cups with the LA Galaxy, one with the San Jose Earthquakes, two MLS Supporters’ Shields, and a USL title with the Portland Timbers.
Across the sea in England, Frank Lampard ended his injury layoff by coming on as a substitute in the 68th minute against Queens Park Rangers. He played 26 minutes in a torrential downpour, and helped spark Manchester City to a 2-2 draw against the West London team.
Finally, Andrew Jacobson played the full 90 minutes with Stabæk. His midfield presence steadied the team, and contributed to a 2-0 road victory at Sogndal in their final match of the season. Stabæk, led by former USMNT head coach Bob Bradley, finished ninth in the Norwegian Tippeligaen. Jacobson’s loan went well; he played the full 90 minutes in 14 of his 15 matches.
Kwame Watson-Siriboe is back with New York City, Carolina’s season having finished, whilst Jeb Brovsky didn’t feature for Strømsgodset, having made only four appearances for the Norwegian team.