The Los Angeles Galaxy confirmed Sunday that Josh Saunders' absence from the team is because he is in a treatment program for substance abuse.
The 31-year-old goalkeeper has missed the past four games since leaving the team April 27, and it was reported days later that he had entered the league's treatment program.
The team acknowledged that was so in a statement issued Sunday afternoon.
"Josh Saunders is currently in the league's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program and will remain unavailable for the club indefinitely," the statement said. "That program is administered by medical professionals appointed jointly by the league and the Players Union. Those medical professionals independently evaluate, treat, and determine the length of time that he will be in the program. The team does not control it."
Saunders, who was arrested for a DUI offense in Oregon eight years ago, won the starting job last season with a series of outstanding performances while Donovan Ricketts was away on international duty and then tending to a broken arm.
He made 18 starts in 19 league appearances and played in all four playoff matches and all six games in the CONCACAF Champions League group phase last year, and any doubt over who would be the No. 1 keeper this year was answered when Ricketts was traded to the Montreal Impact days after the MLS Cup triumph last November.
Saunders played every minute of L.A.'s first eight games, stopping an Omar Cummings penalty kick in stoppage to secure a victory over Colorado the weekend before he entered the program. The Galaxy is 0-2-2 since he departed, although reserve goalkeeper Bill Gaudette and Brian Perk have performed admirably.