Player Spotlight: Settled Frei ready to help Seattle fulfill its MLS Cup aspirations in 2016
As the Seattle Sounders enter one of their most important seasons in MLS, they are assured in the knowledge that their last line of defense is occupied by the dependable and experienced Stefan Frei.
Despite the unexpected loss of Obafemi Martins to the Chinese Super League, Seattle still confident they can put together a championship season in 2016.
The Swiss-born goalkeeper has settled well into his role as the Sounders number one custodian following two productive seasons in the Emerald City. Joining Seattle for the 2014 campaign was a breath of fresh air for Frei, who saw his five-year spell at Toronto FC hampered by injury problems and a lack of action during his final two years with the Canadian outfit.
“I am happy here,” Frei told Goal USA . “I’m so thankful the Sounders have given me a chance here after a little bit of down time with injuries in Toronto, but they believed in me and it turned things around for me, so I’m grateful for that. I’ve been able to play on a consistent level, as last year was a consistent year for me, so I’m just trying to build upon that, get better everyday, and help the team as much as I can.”
Though the Sounders’ form was up and down last season, Frei was a steady performer for the Rave Green. He earned 10 shutouts in his 31 league appearances - good enough for fourth among all MLS goalkeepers in 2015.
As Frei looks ahead to his third season with Seattle, his aspirations remain high. “I want to get into double digit with shutouts. I want to keep the save percentage up in the high-seventies,” he said. “It would be really nice to get the goals-against to be really low this year, as we were very, very close last year. Hopefully, we can achieve that goal this year.”
Frei is well aware of his role in making the Sounders an MLS Cup champion this season. The shot-stopper believes his side must be more consistent, if Seattle’s aspirations are to be realized.
“First and foremost, we want to have a consistent season,” he said. “Last year, we started out extremely strong and things were looking really bright. Then we had injuries, we had suspensions, and this and that… We just have to make sure that summer we had last year won’t happen again and that we’re more consistent throughout the year. I think it’s also important that if you want to win MLS Cup, you have to peak at the right time.”
As MLS observers keep a close eye on the fortunes of the Sounders’ attack after the unexpected departure of Obafemi Martins, Seattle’s hopes for a title-winning campaign may boil down to how Frei and his defensive teammates perform in 2016.