Video by Derek Opina
Cal State Fullerton will host the Los Angeles Galaxy March 10 at 7:30 p.m., as they take on Puntarenas FC of Costa Rica in an international friendly.
â€œWe think itâ€™s an important game, itâ€™s our first game in public this year,â€ Head Coach and General Manager Bruce Arena said. â€œWeâ€™re playing against a good team that has done well in the Costa Rican league and itâ€™s a good time of year to give us a good game.â€
This is not Arena, or the Galaxyâ€™s first time playing at Titan Stadium.
â€œItâ€™s great to go into Orange County and be around an important fan base,â€ Arena said. â€œWeâ€™ve always liked to be at Cal State Fullerton, itâ€™s always been a good venue.â€
The Galaxy’s two most popular players, forward Landon Donovan and midfielder David Beckham will not be attending the friendly against Puntarenas tomorrow.
Donovan is on loan to English Premier Leagueâ€™s Everton and Beckham is on loan to AC Milan’s Serie A club.
Despite the absence of Donovan and Beckham, the Galaxy are still confident in the other players that will be in action, mid fielder Chris Klein, forward Edson Buddle, mid fielder Eddie Lewis, defender Omar Gonzalez and back up goal keeper Josh Saunders.
Saunders played for the Titans for two years.
â€œI learn a lot from the big names, watching them and how they do things,â€ Saunders said.
With only two international exhibitions left before the season starts, the Galaxy has been training hard to ensure success.
â€œWe havenâ€™t given away many goals in preseason so were going to play well and go forward and get chances and finish those chances that we want,â€ Saunders said. â€œI really feel that this year is going to be a good year for us, we have a lot of familiar faces and we feel confident with each other.â€
Saunders split his college career between CSUF and the University of California, spending his first two years at Fullerton before transferring to Cal. He was a two-year starter at Cal, earning First Team All-Pac-10 honors in each of his seasons with the Bears. As a senior in 2002, Saunders was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year award, becoming the first goalkeeper ever to win the award.
In the 2009 MLS Championship game, goal keeper Donovan Ricketts sustained a hand injury in the second half and was unable to continue, which allowed Saunders to make his appearance.
â€œI had to come in and be prepared. That’s something I’ve been prepared for because that’s my job,” Saunders told Oregonlive.com. “I felt like I could come in and make a contribution to the team.”
Saunders made a couple amazing saves in the second half that kept the Galaxy in the game, as they moved on to penalty kicks and gave the Galaxy a chance. Saunders continued to make two outstanding saves in penalty kicks.
“Josh did great,” GalaxyÂ midfielderÂ David Beckham told Oregonlive.com. “That’s all you can ask of your goalkeeper.”
In the end, Saunders guessed wrong on Real Salt Lake Robbie Russellâ€™s game winning penalty kick.
“I was one save away from a championship,” Saunders told Oregonlive.com.
The Galaxyâ€™s 15th season begins March 27, as they take on the New England at the Home Depot Center in Carson, unless the New England Revolution strike.
The Revolution’s bargaining agreement under Major League Soccer has expired and a new agreement has not been reached yet.
â€œLast year was about, can we get a core group that can complete in this league because we hadnâ€™t done that,â€ 12-year MLS veteran and Galaxy midfielder Chris Klein said.
Last year, the Galaxy proved that they could compete as they made it to the championship game.
â€œWeâ€™ve been going all preseason with guys playing 30 minutes, guys playing 45 minutes and guys playing 60 and now its starting to build to get that game fitness for the guys can go 90 minutes and be able to do it at a high level,â€ Klein said. â€œI think these last few exhibitions that we have will be a good test for us to see if we can get in full games.â€