New York City FC trades Josh Saunders to Orlando City SC in exchange for Orlando’s natural fourth-round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.
The 35-year old ends his two-year association with NYCFC following 66 appearances for the club.
Sporting Director Claudio Reyna led the tributes to the outgoing ‘keeper, describing him as an important figure in the first two years of the club.
Reyna said: “I’d like to thank Josh for his service over the last two years and wish him all of the best in this new chapter in his career.
“As the starting goalkeeper in our first-ever game, his place in NYCFC history is assured and we’re grateful for his part in some of our most memorable moments since.
“We’re happy that we managed to find the right solution for him to play in 2017 and we know our fans will also want to wish Josh all of the best in his future endeavors.”
Head Coach Patrick Vieira also expressed his gratitude to Saunders and admitted that it was a tough decision to let the American-born stopper leave.
Vieira told NYCFC.com: “It was a priority for us as a club to work with Josh to find him a team that he wanted to go to and I’m really happy that we’ve managed to find that solution together.
“In the end, we reached a conclusion that suited both parties as he’s going to Orlando which is a club he wanted to be at. Myself and all of the coaching staff would like to thank Josh for his great contribution to NYCFC and wish him luck for the year ahead."
Saunders is an MLS veteran who has been in the league since 2003.
Initially agreeing to join on a free transfer following a spell at Real Salt Lake in July 2014, Josh finished up the 2014 season on loan at San Antonio Scorpions before joining up with NYCFC on the team’s first-ever preseason.
He went on to make the no.1 slot his own over the course of the next two years, featuring in all but two of NYCFC’s 68 regular season games to date.
Saunders was named Etihad Airways Player of the Month on three occasions in 2015, in March, April and October.
A popular figure among supporters, Josh joins fellow 2015 Expansion Team Orlando City where he will provide competition for Joe Bendik.
A three-time MLS Cup winner, Saunders will be reunited with Jason Kreis in Florida and will spend a third spell under the former NYCFC Head Coach.
Josh could be in line to face his former club on the opening day of the MLS season at the new Orlando City Stadium on March 5.
Everyone at NYCFC would like to thank Josh for the last two years and wish him all of the best in Florida.