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Report: Josh Saunders in MLS substance abuse treatment program

May 1, 2012, 8:46 PM EDT

Josh Saunders AP

A concerning story out of Los Angeles, but one that becomes less concerning the second we hear about it. After all, if the news has reached our eyes and ears, the story’s likely heading in the right direction.

That’s how sports’ substance abuse programs work. You don’t hear about the problem until a player has taken steps to correct it, however those steps come about.

LA Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders is now on that road, his surprise weekend absence from Galaxy’s draw with FC Dallas now given unfortunate context. According to the LA Times, the 31-year-old Cal product has been enrolled in the league’s substance abuse program, though Galaxy officials are denying any failed drug tests.

As Kevin Baxter notes, we can look back one year to see how things go from there; at least, how they go as far as on the field matters are concerned:

Saunders missed last Saturday’s tie with FC Dallas and is unavailable for Wednesday night’s match in Seattle, with Coach Bruce Arena saying only that the keeper was missing for “personal reasons.”  That’s the same language the New England Revolution used when midfielder Shalrie Joseph missed six weeks early in the 2010 season while involved in the substance abuse program.

Joseph was also suspended for five games; Saunders could be handed a similar penalty.

All of which is pretty irrelevant. One day, Josh Saunders is going to come back. Whether he’s fined or suspended in the interim doesn’t really matter. He’ll be away getting better.

In the meantime, Bill Gaudette will be in goal. Hopefully, in a couple of months, this is no more meaningful than Joseph’s brief absence at the beginning of last season.

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