Josh Saunders in Rehab But Is He Suspended?

Josh Saunders in Rehab But Is He Suspended?

Josh Saunders is just 31 years old and is sitting on top of his game, or he was until recently. The Galaxy goalkeeper signed up for a rehab treatment program aimed at dealing with substance abuse at the beginning of this month.

The program is sponsored by Major League Soccer (MLS) and they informed the Galaxy organization at the end of April that Saunders would not be available for play time until after he finished with the rehab program.

Spokesmen for Galaxy say that Saunders had not failed any drug test administered by MLS, but were less forthcoming about details surrounding the player’s game absences. Personal reasons were cited and that was as specific as the information got.

Since moving up into professional soccer eight years ago, Saunders has largely filled the role of backup goalkeeper. But when a broken arm put first string goalkeeper Donovan Rickets on the sideline Saunders had the chance to show his stuff.

As it turned out, he had lots to show. Saunders provided eight shutout matches and delivered record-setting game time. It was enough to lead Galaxy to make the replacement permanent by trading Rickets away.

As sports news reporters remind us, this is not the first hint of substance abuse in Saunders career. Back in 2004 when he was goalkeeper for the Portland Timbers, Saunders was pulled over for driving 102 mph through a construction area at 2:30 in the morning.

Saunders was judged to be driving while intoxicated. His car was seized but Saunders was not jailed. Instead he was released to a friend’s custody. So, it seems, Saunders was arrested but not really arrested.

Jump ahead to today. Is Saunders suspended or not suspended? No one wants to use the "S word" it seems. However, in 2010 a similar situation unfolded around New England Revolution’s Shalrie Joseph.

Joseph missed a total of six weeks of season play in order to complete the MLS rehab program. At the time, MLS spokesmen used similar words to describe the missed play – "not suspended."

Usually for substance abuse treatment to be effective the person needs to admit there is a problem. Are we really helping things along when we don’t call things what they are?

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