TUKWILA, Wash. – Stefan Frei has a big test coming up – one not related to his day job as the goalkeeper for the Seattle Sounders.
Frei, who was born in Switzerland before moving to the United States as a teenager, has been in the process of trying to officially obtain eligibility to play for the United States men’s national team. In order to do so, he’ll need to clear one last hurdle.
“I’m doing my [US citizenship] test [Tuesday],” Frei told reporters following Seattle’s Monday training session at Starfire Sports Complex. “So if everything goes well, I’ll be sworn in tomorrow, so that’s good.”
Frei said he’s had an “ongoing open dialogue” with US Soccer and goalkeeper coach Matt Reis about the process and his potential future as a member of the Yanks. The 31-year-old backstop was called into camp with the US in January, although he was forced to withdraw early after sustaining an ankle injury during a training session.
Prior to the injury, USMNT head coach Bruce Arena had said that Frei looked “pretty damn impressive” and spoke highly of his consistency in the net.
Frei’s play on the field for Seattle would certainly seem to merit an extended look from Arena should he obtain his citizenship. Frei has established himself as Seattle’s unquestioned starter since joining the club in 2014, including a standout campaign last year that culminated with an MLS Cup victory in which his legendary extra-time save on Jozy Altidore garnered him the game’s MVP honors.
Frei said he feels confident that he’s ready to pass his citizenship test, in part because of the help of his wife, Jennifer, who has been acting as his tutor.
“I’ve had the best teacher in my wife,” Frei said. “She loves sticking it to me when I’m not getting the answers verbatim perfectly right. So she’s been a good teacher, a good study partner. I think I got it.”
Frei’s citizenship wouldn’t come in time for him to be called in for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, although the Sounders were well represented on the 40-man preliminary roster released earlier this month that included forwards Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris, as well as third-year midfielder Cristian Roldan.