Stefan Frei has won every team award you can win: MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield, U.S. Open Cup and, most notably, Concacaf Champions League. He also recently moved into No. 3 all-time in Major League Soccer history with his 87th career clean sheet.
The Switzerland native and United States dual-national has been the epitome of sustained success. After starting his professional career in 2009 with Toronto FC, he’s blossomed into one of the league’s best goalkeepers since joining the Seattle Sounders in 2014.
Now in his ninth year in Rave Green, the 36-year-old Frei still has no plans of slowing down.
“I’m not done yet,” said Frei. “I’ll try to see if I can catch one more because I think the one at the very top [Nick Rimando] is uncatchable.
“Those are some big names,” he continued. “Jon Busch is up there. [Kevin] Hartman, Nick Rimando, Joe Cannon. These are big names, so for me to find myself among those greats is a huge honor. But I’d love to keep going a little more.”
There was a special moment after the final whistle blew in the second leg of the CCL Final where Frei celebrated with Club Director of Goalkeeping Tom Dutra and fellow goalkeepers Stefan Cleveland and Andrew Thomas. Cleveland performed exceptionally well last year during Frei’s extended injury absence and could be a starter elsewhere in the league, while Thomas is a bright young goalkeeping prospect.
Due in large part to the consistency of Sounders original Dutra, the club continues to have one of the best goalkeeping groups in MLS.
“It’s everything,” Frei said of the goalkeepers’ relationships. “There might be some ‘keepers that prefer being a No. 1 with really a huge gap behind them. But between myself and Tommy, we have always been aware that for us to be successful, the whole corps needs to be very, very good. We need to push each other on a daily basis and get stronger together as a unit. That’s also why we share the success together regardless of who plays on the field during those moments.”
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Added Head Coach Brian Schmetzer: “The work that Tommy Dutra does with all of the goalkeepers, I have a sense of pride about because he’s been with me for a long time. For Stef, I think [climbing the all-time clean sheets list] is a just reward for a fantastic career.”
Frei and the Sounders have a massive opportunity upcoming on Sunday when they host 2022 MLS expansion side Charlotte FC (6:55 p.m. PT; FS1, FOX Deportes, 93.3 KJR FM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS) in the first of five consecutive matches at Lumen Field. The homestand is an excellent chance to make their way up the Western Conference table after putting their CCL title run behind them.
“The fact that it’s five games, there are points that are there for the taking,” said Frei. “It’s important for the amount of confidence and the message we can send to other teams that when you come to our place, it’s not going to be a fun time.”