(Josh Saunders with NYC FC fans after a win at Yankee Stadium – Photo by Mike Lawrence – Sportsday Wire)
New York City FC announced on Thursday afternoon that goalkeeper Josh Saunders has signed a new multi-year contract extension. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Saunders was one of the bright spots in NYC FC’s inaugural season, as he started 33 games and recorded four clean sheets. He led Major League Soccer with 124 saves and was named New York City FC Defensive Player of the Year.
On coming back to NYC FC, Saunders said in a statement, “I love playing for this club. It’s a great honor for me and I’m definitely looking forward to playing in front of our fans again next season. I think the bond with the supporters is great. It’s not just an emotional connection. It helps the players and the fans alike because when you come into our stadium it’s intimidating. Having them truly cheer for people that they care for is great. The team is excited to get back to training soon and begin the hard work and preparation for next season.”
NYC FC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said of re-signing the goalkeeper, “Retaining Josh was always part of our offseason plans. He is a tremendous leader and displays all of the personal and professional qualities we look for in a New York City FC player. He had a great season last year and clearly has a special relationship with our supporters.”
Incoming NYC FC Head Coach, Patrick Vieira, said about the extension for Saunders, “I’m delighted that Josh has signed a new deal with the Club and am really looking forward to working with him next season,” said Vieria. “He is a fantastic professional and is very experienced in this league; he will be an important leader for us both on the pitch and in the locker room.”
Saunders credits goalkeeping coach Rob Vartughian for helping him to a successful first season in New York.
“Rob helped me tremendously. He put in a lot of work with me early on in the year and his work showed in my performances. I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done and I look forward to working with him again,” said Saunders.
Looking forward to next season, Saunders said, “I’d like to have even better performances. Everyone said I had a good season, but I’m critical of myself. I feel like I let in too many goals. I take that personally, so I look at every angle to get better. I also think having MLS veterans is hugely important because we know the demands and rigors of the league. We can sit down and relay that information to the younger players on the roster, it only helps in the long run.”
Saunders was nominated for Major League Soccer’s “Save of the Week” 11 times during the 2015 season and won New York City FC’s Etihad Airways Player of the Month on three separate occasions (March, April and October).