SEATTLE, WASH. – Seattle Sounders FC today announced its 2018 team award recipients, as voted on by Sounders FC’s technical staff and players. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei was voted Most Valuable Player and Humanitarian of the Year for the first time, while defender Chad Marshall earned the club’s Defender of the Year Award for the fourth time in five seasons. Forward Raúl Ruidíaz took home the club’s Golden Boot title with 10 goals in just 14 regular-season appearances.
SOUNDERS FC MOST VALUABLE PLAYER & HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR – STEFAN FREI
Frei enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2018, posting career highs in goals against average (1.03) and saves (114) as he finished second in Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year voting. He set a new franchise record with his 114 saves, which rank tied for fifth in MLS. Frei's 1.03 goals against average was second in the league among goalkeepers with at least 15 games played. The veteran was tied for third in MLS in goalkeeper wins with 18, and he recorded a 290-minute shutout streak from July 15-July 29. Frei posted nine consecutive wins from July 21-September 15, the longest stretch in league history in the post-shootout era (since 2000). On June 13 at the Supporters' Shield-winning New York Red Bulls, Frei established a single-match club record with 11 saves. This marks Frei’s first team MVP honor after previously winning team Defender of the Year in 2015.
Additionally, Frei serves as ambassador for RAVE Foundation, the official charitable arm of Sounders FC, and key program collaborator on the new Sounders FC / RAVE turf playfield at Yesler Terrace Park. Sounders FC and RAVE Foundation partnered with Seattle Housing Authority on the re-development of Yesler Terrace, a low-income housing development that sits at the center of the city. RAVE Foundation collaborated to build an unrentable small turf soccer field, free for use by the entire community. In addition to the field, RAVE funded the GOALS for Art program. Led by Frei, students worked with him to add their design ideas to the goals that were created and installed on their field at Yesler.
SOUNDERS FC DEFENDER OF THE YEAR – CHAD MARSHALL
Marshall earns Sounders FC Defender of the Year for the third consecutive season and the fourth time in five years with the club. The only three-time MLS Defender of the Year in league history, Marshall anchored a defensive unit that ranked second in the league in fewest goals allowed (37). He matched a career high and was tied for second among MLS defenders with four goals, including one match-winning marker. He led Sounders FC this season with 27 blocks, 71 interceptions and 98 aerials won, while ranking second with 91 clearances and 43 headed clearances, as well as sixth with 129 duels won. On October 21 at Houston, he became just the fourth player – and second field player – in league history to appear in 400 games and pass the 35,000 minutes-played mark. Marshall currently ranks second all-time among outfield players with 396 career starts and 35,123 minutes played, trailing only Kyle Beckerman in both categories. For his efforts this season, Marshall finished runner-up in MLS Defender of the Year voting and earned MLS Best XI for the fourth time in his career.
SOUNDERS FC GOLDEN BOOT – RAÚL RUIDÍAZ
Ruidíaz wins Sounders FC’s 2018 Golden Boot despite spending just over four months with the club, as the Peruvian led the team with 10 goals in just 14 regular-season appearances. He tallied his first goal in his first start for the Rave Green on July 25 at San Jose, a 1-0 Seattle victory, then recorded his first of three regular-season braces in a 2-1 win at Vancouver on September 15 to secure the 2018 Cascadia Cup. Ruidíaz also scored twice in a 4-0 home win over Colorado on September 29 and in a 2-1 Decision Day win over San Jose to clinch a bye in the Knockout Round. Ruidíaz scored his 10 goals on just 17 shots on goal, while his 0.71 goals per game ranked third in MLS, behind only Josef Martinez and Zlatan Ibrahimović. His strong run of form coincided with the club’s late-season turnaround, as Sounders FC went 12-2-0 in regular-season matches that Ruidíaz appeared. Additionally, Ruidíaz scored three goals in two postseason matches, including a brace in the second leg vs. Portland to force extra time and penalties.
Sounders FC saw its 2018 campaign come to a close last Thursday after being eliminated by Portland following the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals. Despite edging the Timbers 2-1 in regulation, Seattle bowed out of the 2018 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in front of 39,542 fans at CenturyLink Field. Last Thursday's result ended Sounders FC's 2018 campaign in its 10th consecutive postseason appearance, with the club accumulating a 21-15-5 record across all competitions.