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The Goalkeeping Union at the Seattle Sounders made a big pickup on Wednesday as Stefan Cleveland re-signed with the club ahead of the 2022 season.

Cleveland, 27, entered free agency coming off a career year with the Sounders. Seattle’s backup goalkeeper stepped into the limelight when long-time starter Stefan Frei missed almost half the season with a leg injury. Cleveland acquitted himself well during his stint in net, starting 15 matches and earning three clean sheets with a 7-4-5 record across all competitions.

After impressing as a starter for half the season last year, Cleveland tested the waters in free agency this offseason. Ultimately, the culture and rich history of winning at the Sounders compelled him to re-sign with the club. 

“The big thing is that I know what his club has to offer,” said Cleveland. “I know that we’re always going to be competitive, and that’s the environment I want to be in. For me to improve as a player, as a person, all of it, I need to be in a place that’s going to be winning and a competitive environment in training. That’s what we have here.” 

With Cleveland impressing as Frei’s stand-in in 2021, there was ample speculation that he would depart the club in the offseason, making his decision to re-sign another important addition for the Sounders as they gear up for a jam-packed 2022.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey told “There was interest in him, and I think we were very fortunate to retain Stef. I think he was one of the unsung heroes of last year. Very similar to the NFL, if your quarterback goes out – or if your goalkeeper goes out – that team can bottom out if you don’t have a stabilizing presence in that role. Stef really stabilized us last year.”

Cleveland’s return to the Rave Green further cement’s the club’s status as one of the premier goalkeeping groups in Major League Soccer. Frei is one of the best shot-stoppers in league history and keeps climbing up the MLS all-time leader boards in virtually every category, while Andrew Thomas is a promising prospect with plenty of upside. Cleveland adds valuable experience to the group as another starting quality player under the tutelage of club goalkeeping director Tommy Dutra.

The depth in Seattle’s goalkeeping department will prove crucial as the club contends for four trophies in the Concacaf Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup Playoffs. 

“Now with our goalkeeping core of Stefan Frei, Stefan Cleveland of Andrew Thomas – a young player we’re excited about as well – I really feel good about that group and that we can handle multiple competitions,” noted Lagerwey. “We’re going to have fresh goalkeepers, developing goalkeepers and outstanding goalkeepers. We still maintain, I think, the smartest goalkeeping group in the history of the league with a Berkeley guy, a Dartmouth guy and a Stanford astrophysics major.”

The Sounders will officially kick off the 2022 campaign on February 17 as they visit Honduran side F.C. Motagua in Leg One of the Concacaf Champions League before hosting Leg Two at Lumen Field on February 24.



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