It’s officially a new era between the sticks for NYCFC. Today, the club announced the departure of Josh Saunders, who logged 66 games for the Boys in Blue.
The 35 year old goalkeeper is off to Orlando City to re-join Jason Kreis. The Lions sent their fourth-round pick in the 2019 SuperDraft in exchange.
As sporting director Claudio Reyna said in today’s official press release:
“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. 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.”
Saunders missed just one regular season game in each of New York City’s first two seasons. When gaffer Patrick Vieira opted for Eirik Johansen in the 2016 regular season finale against Columbus, however, the rumblings began that the Saunders era was coming to an end. Sure enough, Johansen remained in goal for both legs of NYCFC’s playoff flameout against Toronto.
Vieira noted on yesterday’s media conference call that, if they desired featured roles, both Saunders and midfielder Mix Diskerud needed to find new clubs. As the manager said in the official release today:
“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. 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."
Josh Saunders’ limitations with the ball at his feet are unavoidable; considering that Vieira’s build-from-the-back style depends on a goalkeeper that can fire off short, efficient passes with confidence, today’s trade doesn’t come as any manner of surprise.
But being a part of this club from its birth means something. It will always mean something. Hey, the guy even stared down Sebastian Giovinco from the spot, forcing the MVP to miss a penalty back in year one.
Thank you, Josh.
May you strike fear in still-more hearts before you hang up those boots.