Saunders sad to see Ricketts go

November, 29, 2011
11/29/11
7:40
PM PT
The man who most benefits from Donovan Ricketts' departure isn't happy to see the big Jamaican go.

“It's a situation where it's a great friend and a great teammate that we're losing,” goalkeeper Josh Saunders said from Indonesia in a video the Galaxy posted in response to media inquiries. “That's difficult, but with this league, these are decisions you have to make, and we have to move forward from here.”

Donovan Ricketts
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who was traded to Montreal this week, was nothing but "a great teammate" according to Josh Saunders.

Ricketts, 34, the Galaxy's No. 1 goalkeeper most of the past three seasons, was traded Monday to the expansion Montreal Impact for allocation money, an economic move made possible by Saunders' superb campaign this year. The Jamaican national-teamer was Major League Soccer's Goalkeeper of the Year in 2010 and led the league with a 0.77 goals-against average this season, although he was limited to 15 games by injuries and international duty.

Galaxy coach Bruce Arena called the trade “really difficult.”

“First of all, we think Donovan is one of the top two or three goalkeepers in the league,” Arena said. “He's been an outstanding performer for the Galaxy, but this business is a difficult business, when we have certain rules we have to comply with, with the salary cap and everything else. ...

“I would say this, that we were a better team with Donovan. He was great for us for three years. An all-star performer, a [Best] XI performer. We're going to miss him, but we have all the confidence in the world in our returning goalkeepers, in Josh Saunders and Brian Perk, and, hopefully, we will continue to move forward and keep the tradition of having great goalkeeping at the L.A. Galaxy.”

Saunders, 30, established himself as the first-choice keeper while Ricketts was sidelined because of a broken arm, and his performances down the stretch -- in MLS and CONCACAF Champions League games -- kept him in the nets for the postseason.

The Galaxy had two No. 1 goalkeepers and a need to clear cap space before the 2012 season begins in March, and Ricketts was expected to move during the offseason. His 2011 salary was $170,000 ($195,000 in average guaranteed compensation); Saunders made $63,222 ($66,355.75).

Saunders, before the Nov. 20 MLS Cup final, talked about Ricketts' impact on the standard of training for the Galaxy goalkeepers.

“You see him and Brian doing the reps, and they're not dropping balls -- they're catching everything, making all the saves,” Saunders said. “That brings your level of concentration up, because you don't want to be the one to go through a drill and let in three of four shots. It keeps the level extremely high.”

Saunders, in Jakarta for the Galaxy's postseason friendly against Indonesia's national team, on Tuesday called the trade “a surprise.”

“Having Donovan, the goalkeeper that he is and the person that he is, it's sad to see him go ...” he said. “He is the best. Always happy, always smiling, came in every day, had a good joke. Even training with him, we always kept it very light.

“Whether I was playing or he was playing or Perky was playing, we were always very supportive. He supported me all the way through when he was injured and through the playoffs, and I couldn't ask anything more from another player.”

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