The Seattle Sounders are a marquee franchise and, according to Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter, “a high-powered, big-budget team.” Only the Los Angeles Galaxy can rival Seattle’s the pantheon of talent. Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, and Nelson Haedo Valdez are all international football veterans. Ozzie Alonso, Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Tyrone Mears, Roman Torres, Gonzalo Pineda, Andreas Ivanschitz and Erik Friberg all have quality pedigrees. I get tired just typing out the names of all the rockstar-calibre Sounders. But no star has shown brighter for Seattle lately than keeper Stefan Frei.
Any discussion of last week’s HUGE WIN over the hated Timbers must mention Frei. He singlehandedly kept the Sounders in the game, especially in the first half. Frei parried every shot, kept pristine positioning and commanded his line. Seattle hasn’t seen such dominating goalkeeping since Kasey Keller was in the net (no offense to Michael Gspurning). He was simply unbelievable.
After Keller and Gspurning, Frei was Seattle’s first “meh” goalie signing. Last season he started slow, giving credence to the “washed up” tag that was looming after injury-plagued and disappointing seasons in Toronto. But he ended 2014 strong and his 2015 has been even better. Frei is setting career-best records with Seattle, even as Seattle suffers a down season.
Frei has 9 shut-outs, 88 saves and only 27 goals against and a 77% save percentage. All set or tie career highs for him through only 24 games. His 77% is second to only Bill Hamid (by 1% and in 5 more games) for keepers with more than 15 starts. I think we can now safely say that Stefan Frei has become an elite MLS goalie. Hell, Frei has made himself a legitimate contender for goalkeeper of the year.
We’ve had a rough summer here in Soundersland, but it would have been much rougher if Frei missed more than the 3 games he was out in July. I know we are still in a white-knuckle race for the playoffs, but if we can get in we have a keeper who can give us a deep run. That is something L.A. most definitely doesn’t have.