RSL Add Josh Saunders and Khari Stephenson

Posted in Real Salt Lake

Published on February 22, 2013 with No Comments

Photo: Ali Gilmore

Josh Saunders made some key saves in LA’s run to the title
Photo: Ali Gilmore

RSL have added a MLS Cup Winner and a Supporters Shield Winner to their erstwhile depleted ranks.

LA keeper Josh Saunders and San Jose’s Khari Stephenson have been signed with just eight days to go till the opening of the season.

“We were surprised that Josh was available and we are happy to bring him in,” Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey said. “We want to have competition at every spot and I think we got to a point with our goalkeeping situation where we hadn’t had that. Signing Josh is key to changing that.”

Saunders and Stephenson had been training with RSL but, according to the club release, the former is likely to be an understudy to Nick Rimando taking over from Kyle Reynish.

Jamaican international Stephenson appeared in 27 of San Jose’s regular season games. Lagerwey called him:

‘an attack-minded player who is very physical and keeps the ball well.’

Both are eligible to play in the Desert Diamond Cup final against Seattle tomorrow.

Club Release:

Real Salt Lake made a pair of signings on Friday, adding GK Josh Saunders and MF Khari Stephenson. Per league and club policy, terms of the deals will not be disclosed.

Saunders comes to RSL after spending the last four seasons with the L.A. Galaxy. The 31-year-old ‘keeper started in L.A.’s 2011 and 2012 MLS Cup wins but left the club this offseason after failing to agree to a new contract. Saunders is expected to serve as the backup to RSL starting GK Nick Rimando in 2013.

Saunders has been training with the Claret-and-Cobalt since early-February, showing well in several of RSL’s preseason matches. The veteran backstop has made 53 career MLS regular season starts, notching 20 shutouts, allowing 64 total goals and compiling a record of 31-12-11.

Saunders made 27 regular season appearances for L.A. in 2012, registering nine shutouts and allowing 36 goals.

“We were surprised that Josh was available and we are happy to bring him in,” Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey said. “We want to have competition at every spot and I think we got to a point with our goalkeeping situation where we hadn’t had that. Signing Josh is key to changing that.”

Stephenson joins Real Salt Lake after spending the last two-and-a-half seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes. The rangy Jamaican international did not have his contract option picked up by San Jose after the 2012 season and was not selected in the MLS Re-Entry process.

The 32-year-old Stephenson has been training with RSL since the team’s January preseason camp in Casa Grande, Ariz. The 6-foot-2 Stephenson has played on both the outside and the top of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s midfield diamond, scoring the winning goal in the final seconds of RSL’s 3-2 win over New England on Wednesday in the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup.

Stephenson made 27 regular season appearances for San Jose last year, scoring two goals, tallying three assists and making 10 starts. He has 28 career caps and six goals for the Jamaican national team.

“Khari is another player who we did not expect to be available and we feel very fortunate that he was” Lagerwey said. “He’s an attack-minded player who is very physical and keeps the ball well. We think he’ll be a very good fit in our system.”

Real Salt Lake will play Seattle Sounders FC in the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup Final on Saturday at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium. The match will be televised nationally on the NBC Sports Network starting at 6 p.m. MT.
Player: Josh Saunders
Position: Goalkeeper
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight:  210 lbs.
Date of Birth: March 2, 1981
Place of Birth: Grants Pass, OR
College: University of California
Citizenship: US
How Acquired: Signed by Real Salt Lake on Feb. 22, 2013

Player: Khari Stephenson
Position: Midfielder
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight:  185 lbs.
Date of Birth: January 18, 1981
Place of Birth: Kingston, Jamaica
College: Williams College
Citizenship: Jamaica
How Acquired: Signed by Real Salt Lake on Feb. 22, 2013





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