March 7, 2013
BERKELEY - California alumni Steve Purdy joined new Major League Soccer teams prior to the start of the 2013 season to bring the total number of formal Golden Bear players in MLS to 12. Both teams brought the erstwhile Bears into the fold in February, after Saunders completed his latest stint with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Purdy left the Portland Timbers.
"Having 16 former Cal players playing professionally and 12 of them on MLS rosters culminates the great work and high-performance culture that our student-athletes have put into their Cal careers," Cal head coach Kevin Grimes said. "It is quite an achievement for Cal to rank with only a few schools as one of the highest producers of current players in MLS. We look to continue this tradition of developing talent for Major League Soccer, European teams, the USL-PRO and NASL. Our administration, current staff and alumni should be very proud to be amongst the elite of college soccer."
Drafted into the league by the San Jose Earthquakes, Saunders won his first MLS title as a rookie with San Jose in 2003 and claimed his second as a reserve with the Galaxy in 2005. He almost won again when he replaced injured L.A. starter Donovan Ricketts in the second half of the 2009 final, but Real Salt Lake prevailed in penalty kicks. Saunders won two more MLS Cups with the Galaxy in 2011 and 2012.
Purdy played with the Portland Timbers from 2011-12 and previously played with FC Dallas in 2009. The 6-foot-4 center back also plays for the El Salvador National Team, getting called up for the 2011 Gold Cup as well as for 2014 World Cup qualifying.
Other Golden Bears in the MLS include the following: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Stefan Frei (Toronto FC), Andrew Jacobson (FC Dallas), Hector Jimenez (Los Angeles Galaxy), Tyson Wahl (Columbus Crew) and Andrew Wiedeman (Toronto FC).
Other Golden Bears playing professionally include Anthony Avalos (SK Vard Haugesund, Norway), Troy Roberts (Rochester Rhinos, USL PRO) and Jacob Wilson (Vasas SC, Hungary First Division).