Needing a fulltime replacement for Michael Gspurning, the Seattle Sounders have traded for goalkeeper Stefan Frei. The Sounders will send a conditional first round pick in the 2015 SuperDraft to Toronto FC in exchange for the 27-year-old. The former Generation adidas player spent his first five seasons at TFC, starting most of his first three years before injuries derailed his once-promising career.
"Stefan is a goalkeeper we have liked for a number of years," Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said in a team release. "He is a quality professional who brings experience and leadership to the position. Adding Stefan at this point of his career was very attractive to us."
Frei's best professional year was probably his first, in 2009. As a rookie, Frei went 9-9-7 and stopped 72 percent of the shots he faced. TFC finished just one point shy of the playoffs that year.
Playing behind a pretty awful defense started to take its toll, though. The following year, Frei registered eight shutouts and saved 74 percent of the shots he faced but went just 8-13-7. In 2011, the bottom basically fell out as he allowed a league worst 49 goals and went 3-12-11. That year, he actually had twice as many shutouts (six) as wins.
Although Frei opened 2012 as the starter -- playing the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals against the LA Galaxy -- but broke his leg before making his MLS debut and ended up missing the entire season. He was slated to open 2013 as the starter, but an injury allowed Joe Bendik to claim the job and Frei only ended up playing in regular-season match (a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire).
Not surprisingly, TFC opted not to re-sign Frei and he was out of contract prior to the trade.
It's unclear if the Sounders have already re-signed him or if they will need to do so before Wednesday's Re-Entry Draft deadline. (UPDATE: Sounders confirm that Frei is already under contract.) In what was likely the final year of his original Generation Adidas deal, Frei made $200,000 in guaranteed compensation with a base salary of $145,000 last year.
The conditional part of the trade could be that the Sounders need to be able to come to terms with Frei, or it could be tied to playing time. As it stands now, Frei would likely be competing with Marcus Hahnemann for the starting spot. It is worth noting that despite Hahnemann's proclamation on Twitter that he was returning, the team has yet to make an official announcement.