Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
The LA Galaxy have the renegotiate with Josh Saunders this offseason. It doesn't seem likely that he'll be back.
So far in this series I've dealt with players the LA Galaxy have to negotiate with in the offseason. Thus far, I've toed the party line as spelled out by Bruce Arena. Between Chippen, Juninho, and Magee it was easy to simply try and explain Arena's logic. When it comes to Josh Saunders, I fear it shall be trickier.
Keepers are a tricky lot. Bruce Arena upon taking the Galaxy gig inherited Steve Cronin as his goalkeeper, after Ruud Gullit traded away Joe Cannon for allocation money. Arena brought Josh Saunders over on loan from Miami FC for the end of the 2008 season, signed Cronin to a multi-year extension, then signed Donovan Ricketts who had just returned to Jamaica. At that point, Arena shipped out Steve Cronin.
Still with me? Ricketts wins keeper of the year in 2010, but only appeared in sixty six minutes out of the Galaxy's two MLS Cup matches due to injuries. With Saunders in goal when the Galaxy won MLS Cup 2011, Arena protected both his keepers in the expansion draft then dealt Ricketts to Montreal.
Point being, Arena has shown no sentimentality when it comes to keepers. He wants the best option and the right price, and thus far Josh Saunders has been just that.
In goals against average, Josh Saunders fits right in with Bill Gaudette (whom the Galaxy let go of) Joe Cannon, and Zac MacMath in Philadelphia. However, up until now he's been paid like a Bill Gaudette, and hasn't gotten a veterans salary like Cannon.
That's because the last time the Galaxy negotiated with Saunders he was playing in the second tier in American soccer; he didn't have leverage. Now with two Cup wins, two years as a starting keeper, and his MLS experience he stands to make much more next season.
I just don't expect the Galaxy to be the ones footing the bill. Looking at his peers statistically, the Galaxy are paying for a Bill Gaudette and getting Josh Saunders, while other teams are paying for a Dan Kennedy and getting a Zac MacMath.
Divorced of any sentimentality over the Cup wins, it would be a mistake for the Galaxy to pay Saunders like Dan Kennedy and yet have Josh Saunders. Especially since rumor has it that the Galaxy can get Dan Kennedy. The Galaxy have young talent blocked in the system and Chivas had a world class goalkeeper.
The Galaxy would do well to re-sign Josh Saunders in a vacuum. However, soccer played in a vacuum would be quite strange, very hard to get the proper friction necessary to score goals. Overpaying for an average keeper due to sentimentality would be a mistake. Dan Kennedy in goal with a healthy LA back line in front of him would be a dominant force in MLS and worth paying for.