Saunders to RSL? Arena says LA won't stand in the way

Josh Saunders throws the ball, LA Galaxy

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CARSON, Calif. – If Real Salt Lake want Josh Saunders, the LA Galaxy are not going to stand in their way.

LA still hold Saunders' rights, after extending bona fide contract offers that the veteran goalkeeper turned down, but they'll swiftly surrender them if another club wants to sign him.

Saunders, the Galaxy's starter in their back-to-back MLS Cup triumphs over Houston in 2011 and 2012, departed the club during the offseason and has been training with RSL in Southern California.

“Whatever those technical issues are, we'll get those resolved,” Galaxy head coach/general manager Bruce Arena said. “That won't be in the way of Josh's ability to move on to [RSL] or another team in the league. We'll certainly support a move for him any way we can.”

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Would the Galaxy ask for a Supplemental Draft pick in return?

“Whatever, you know?” Arena replied.

Saunders played the second half of the Utah side’s 1-0 victory over LA in a scrimmage Friday at the Home Depot Center. RSL would not make him available to media, but Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens said it was nice to go up against his former teammate.

“I was happy to see him,” said Stephens, who made his first preseason game appearance after missing victories over the US under-17 national team and USL Pro side Los Angeles Blues while recovering from a minor ankle injury. “Happy that he got picked up and settled and everything.”

Saunders is vying for a job backing up veteran RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. He had little to do in 45 minutes and was required to make just one save, on a weakly headed shot by Jack McBean in the 32nd minute.

Italian veteran Carlo Cudicini, who signed in December on a free transfer from Tottenham, has been the Galaxy's No. 1 goalkeeper in preseason, and returning backups Brian Perk and Brian Rowe also are on LA's roster. The Galaxy also possess the rights to former Columbus Crew keeper Will Hesmer, who they selected in the second stage draft of December's Re-Entry process, and Arena said there would be “resolution” on his situation soon.