It’s no secret that Stefan Frei is heralded as one of the elite goalkeepers in Major League Soccer.
Since being brought in as the starting goalkeeper in 2014, Frei’s rise as one of the most successful goalkeepers in league history has run parallel to the Rave Green’s emergence as a preeminent force in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs year after year. As reliable as he’s been in the regular season, Frei seems to find a new gear every single year as the Sounders enter the postseason.
In six trips to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Frei and the Sounders have reached three MLS Cup Finals, winning the title twice.
Simply put: Frei is wired for the postseason.
During Sounders FC’s first run to MLS Cup in 2016, Frei stood on his head all postseason, producing 26 saves and four shutouts in six matches. In the final against a juggernaut Toronto FC side, the Seattle goalkeeper put in a man-of-the match performance with seven saves across 120 minutes, eventually winning the club’s first championship in penalty kicks.
Frei’s superhuman displays throughout the postseason have firmly established him in the pantheon of elite goalkeepers in Major League Soccer. Entering the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Frei sits fourth all-time in postseason appearances (23), fourth in wins (14), sixth in saves (82) and fourth in shutouts (9).
While it has been a chaotic year on and off the field, Frei’s steadfast, consistently excellent contributions have been one of the few constants in 2020. From 22 starts this season, the Sounders goalkeeper has posted 60 saves, six shutouts and a goals-against average of 1.05, all while saving 72.3-percent of the shots he faced.
Some players crumble or retreat within themselves when the pressure ramps up this time of year, but not Frei. He’s been here before. He’s produced his best performances when a trophy is on the line, and that veteran experience will permeate throughout the group as they strive toward a third championship in five years.
With everything on the line, look for Frei to elevate his already elite performances once the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs get underway against LAFC on November 24 (7:30 p.m. PT; ESPN, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM).