After spending the past two seasons as New York City FC’s starting keeper, Josh Saunders is heading south.
The Citizens traded Saunders to Orlando City SC is exchange for Orlando’s natural fourth-round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. The 35-year old made 66 appearances for New York City. He will reunite with Orlando head coach Jason Kreis, who coached NYCFC during the 2015 season.
Patrick Vieira, NYCFC head coach, said it was a priority for the club to work with Saunders and move him to a team he found acceptable.
“In the end, we reached a conclusion that suited both parties as he’s going to Orlando,” he said. “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.”
While Saunders was a fixture in the New York City goal for much of his two years in the Bronx, Vieira raised eyebrows in the final game of the 2016 season when he benched Saunders in favor of Eirik Johansen in the team’s 4-1 win over Columbus Crew. Johansen also started NYC’s two playoffs matches against Toronto FC.
During the offseason the end to Saunders’ career in New York was sealed when the Citizens traded for keeper Sean Johnson as part of a three team deal that also included the Chicago Fire and expansion Atlanta United.
“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,” said Claudio Reyna, NYCFC’s sporting director. “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.”