LA's Arena: With Cudicini in fold, Saunders return unlikely

Josh Saunders throws the ball, LA Galaxy

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With Carlo Cudicini signed and discussions ongoing with Will Hesmer, LA Galaxy head coach/general manager Bruce Arena on Monday told MLSsoccer.com that it was “not likely” that Josh Saunders, the club's No. 1 goalkeeper the past season-and-a-half, would return to the club for the coming season.

Saunders (above), who will be 32 in March, is out of contract after turning down multiple offers from the Galaxy “in the last year.” With three ‘keepers already under contract and Re-Entry Draft pick Hesmer anticipated to sign soon, Saunders appears to be the odd man out after starting 65 competitive first-team matches in 2011 and 2012.

Backup Brian Perk has signed a new contract, Arena confirmed, and Brian Rowe returns after joining LA last July.

The Galaxy signed Cudicini a week ago on a free transfer from Tottenham Hotspur, and the 39-year-old figures to go into camp later this month as the team's No. 1 netminder.

“I think we have a tremendously experienced goalkeeper,” Arena said of Cudicini. “He's extremely fit for his age. I don't have any concerns about that. I think he's got a lot of class. I think he's an outstanding goalkeeper, and he's going to be great with our backline and helping with the communication and organization.”

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Arena said he's seen Cudicini play “for a number of years,” and the Italian veteran played the full 90 for Tottenham in last July's friendly against LA at the Home Depot Center. He's been a backup most of the past decade with Chelsea and, since 2009, with Spurs, so he's excited to get the chance to be a starter again.

“I think he is motivated. He's a real good professional,” Arena said. “I think he wants to come here and do well. This isn't just to get a little sun. I think he's pretty serious about the move here. ...

“I've had opportunity to talk to Brad Friedel, who works with him every day [at Tottenham], so we know what we're getting. I think we're getting a real good goalkeeper and a guy who wants to be here and will help make our team better.”