Player Features

"He kept us in the game": Stefan Frei stands tall in win over New England, moves closer to MLS history

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At some point this season, Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei will likely pass Kevin Hartman for second on Major League Soccer’s career clean sheets list.

Hartman and shutout-leader Nick Rimando have long dominated the goalkeeping statistics in MLS, cementing themselves as the gold standard for not only success, but also longevity. Frei, now 38 and in his 16th professional season, needs just three more clean sheets to further stamp what has already been an indelible MLS legacy.

The latest of Frei’s 110 shutouts came over the weekend in a 2-0 win over the New England Revolution. Frei came up clutch throughout the first half especially to keep out a Revs barrage and allow Albert Rusnák to ice the match late in the second half.

“Another shutout,” said Rusnák. “Defenders, Stef…everybody is high on confidence and everybody is playing well, and you need everybody to play well to get results.

Frei’s best moment came in the 35th minute he made an incredible double-save to deny Giacomo Vrioni and Esmir Bajraktarevic. Frei first got low and pushed away Vrioni’s initial attempt with his hand before recovering and sliding to his right to kick away a rebound from Bajraktarevic.

Those two saves on Saturday likely won’t make Frei’s career highlight reel, one that when it’s all said and done will be littered with MLS Save of the Year-winning and MLS Cup-winning stops. But they were emblematic of the consistency and dependability of his time in the Seattle goal.

“He kept us in the game,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “He had to keep us in it.”

Frei may have never won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, but he earned his flowers on an even bigger stage, being named the 2022 Concacaf Champions League Player of the Tournament following the Sounders’ historic continental triumph. And when he eventually passes Hartman for No. 2 all-time in clean sheets, he will always be remembered as one of the best and most decorated goalkeepers to ever play in MLS.

“He’s done that throughout his career,” Schmetzer said of Frei. “We’re blessed to have him. The individual accolades have maybe passed him by as far as All-Star and [Best XI] go, but I’d take Stef Frei on my team before most of the goalkeepers in this league.”

Frei’s next chance to pull within one of tying the record will come this Saturday when the Sounders visit Austin FC. Seattle will first, though, travel to northern California on Tuesday to take on the USL Championship’s Sacramento Republic FC in the quarterfinal of the U.S. Open Cup (8 p.m. PT; Watch free on Apple TV, 950 KJR AM).

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