After six years, Bryan Meredith finally gets another chance in admirable fill-in performance for Stefan Frei

SEATTLE — It took six years, but Bryan Meredith finally got another chance.

The Seattle Sounders backup goalkeeper made his first MLS appearance since 2012 on Saturday in a 3-2 loss to the Portland Timbers at CenturyLink Field. With No. 1 Stefan Frei out because of concussion protocol, Meredith stepped up and earned his first MLS minutes since he started for the Sounders at the New York Red Bulls in a 2-2 draw on July 15, 2012.

“It’s definitely a big match to play my first one in a while, had an Open Cup game, played some S2 games, so that helps having a few games this year under my belt,” said Meredith. “I felt confident, I felt comfortable.”

Meredith makes one of his three saves vs. the Timbers | USA Today Sports

The 28-year-old MLS veteran has been around since 2011 when he joined the Sounders after graduating from Monmouth University in New Jersey. After two seasons in Seattle, he spent the following three as a backup for the San Jose Earthquakes before the Sounders reacquired him ahead of the 2017 season. Frei missed two matches last year — once in the regular season and once in the postseason — but both were started by Tyler Miller, who is now the No. 1 for LAFC.

Meredith knew a few days ago he would be getting the starting nod and came in prepared. He had had a good week of training and Club Director of Goalkeeping Tommy Dutra did not need to say much to Meredith before he took the pitch.

“I was confident that I could step up and fill Stef’s shoes well, and I thought I did that,” Meredith said. “Happy with my performance. Unfortunate to give up three goals, but I think it’s something to build on.”

Meredith finished with three saves, the highlight of which was this immaculate reaction to parry away a Larrys Mabiala header on a corner kick in the 22nd minute.

Meredith also finished with two punches and looked comfortable in net. There was not much he could have done on any of the three goals — two headers on corners by Mabiala and a 1-v-1 counterattack from Samuel Armenteros.

“He made that really, really tremendous save in the first half,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “I don’t want to fault him for any of the three goals. He came in and did a good job. I thought he was good.”

Meredith said he was glad to get some early touches on the ball to calm the nerves a bit, but he still wishes he could have led Seattle to a victory. The Sounders sit 11 points outside of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and he knows that it’s up to the players on the field to right the ship.

“We all need to be blunt with ourselves within the group and realize the place we are in,” Meredith said. “It’s nobody but the guys in this locker room who can get it done for us and get some points.”