MLS Cup MVP. Check. MLS All-Star. Check.
Less than a year after helping guide the Seattle Sounders to MLS Cup glory with his extra-time fingertip save, goalkeeper Stefan Frei was named to the 2017 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target on Tuesday morning.
MLS All-Star head coach and current Chicago Fire boss Veljko Paunović made 11 selections including Frei for the Aug. 2 match vs. reigning UEFA Champions League champion Real Madrid. For Frei, it’s an accolade he shares with his Sounder teammates.
“It’s a big honor,” Frei told SoundersFC.com. “It’s an individual recognition but in a team sport my teammates are so important for me to make me look decent stat-wise and get something like this on an individual level, so all credit goes to my teammates.”
In his ninth MLS season, Frei has started 19 matches for the Rave Green notching five shutouts in the process. Ahead of the 2017 MLS season, Frei, a U.S. citizen as of this June, also received his first call into the U.S. Men’s National Team camp in January.
Frei’s related his experience with the national team to the MLS All-Star Game.
“Having had played in this league for a while now, I think in every team you kind of see familiar faces,” Frei said. “Having had the chance to go into January camp with a lot of MLS players it was pretty awesome to get together with some of the good players around the league and play on the same team with them. All-Star is a similar thing.”
The 2017 All-Star Game at Soldier Field in Chicago won’t mark the first time Frei has faced Real Madrid either. While with Toronto FC in 2009, he played 45 minutes against the Spanish superpower, which featured quite a dynamic lineup.
“It was actually the first game Kaka, Ronaldo, Raul, Benzema, those guys all played together,” he said. “I think I played the first half and from a goalkeeper’s perspective it wasn’t very nice to play – I think I got scored on three times in 45 minutes.”
Regardless of the result, Frei is eager to represent the quality this league has to offer.
“Even though we’re in the middle of our season, we’re all competitive and we’re going to try to show what the MLS is all about and put on a good performance against arguably one of the best teams in the world. They’re always high-intensity games and they’re competitors and we’re competitors and it should make for a great match.”