May 22, 2012, 6:07 PM EDT
We were taken aback to learn Josh Saunders, starting goalkeeper for LA Galaxy, had entered Major League Soccer’s substance abuse treatment program. Thankfully, Saunders is back with LA and in reasonable spirits, though it’s unclear when he’ll be playing.
Speaking to ESPNLA’s Scott French, Saunders shed some limited light of the circumstances behind his treatment, with the 31-year-old trying to downplay speculation about the reasons he entered the program:
“There were, obviously, a lot of stories floating around. It’s unfortunate people were taking it and blowing it out of proportion before they got a chance to talk to me.
“(I) … had some family issues, wanted to deal with them on my own. We’re humans. We have a life outside of soccer, and people forget that. I’m just happy to be in the state that I’m in now.”
Admittedly, I’m not the most Twitter-savvy guy in the world, but I hadn’t heard much speculation about why Saunders was entered the program. If it’s out there, so be it, but what’s important is he’s back, seemingly upbeat (at least, as upbeat as can be expected), and under no pressure to contribute.
Though Saunders is being allowed to train with the team (Monday’s training session his first since leaving the team on Apr. 27), he’s not cleared to play. He’s going to have to get a doctor to sign off on that, and according to French, there’s no timetable for his return.
For now, getting back to normal life seems to be the priority.
Without Saunders, LA’s winless, losing three of five. They’ve also failed to keep a clean sheet, allowing six goals, scoring only twice.
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