While this was the reasonable assumption based on his shutout performance, it's mainly notable because Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid gave pretty clear indications that it's now Frei's job to lose. You have to go all the way back to the week of Oct. 9 to find the last time the Sounders had a clear No. 1 starter (while everyone knew Marcus Hahnemann would start in the first leg against the Portland Timbers, that was by default).
Frei has absolutely earned it. Despite coming into the season with just one league start during the past two MLS seasons, Frei came into training camp looking confident and ready to compete. He battled a couple small injuries but was sharp in each of his preseason appearances.
Hahnemann, meanwhile, never really looked ready to be the No. 1. His preseason got off to a slow start after he suffered an offseason injury and he had some shaky moments in several matches.
Even if Hahnemann had earned the job, it would have only been a band-aid as it's tough to see how much longer he can play. The 41-year-old has said he's contemplated retirement in each of the past two seasons. Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, Frei could be around for much, much longer.
Still just 27, Frei has only 83 professional appearances. There's every reason to think that if he manage to stay healthy that he might have 10 years of high-level play left in him.
Hanauer speaks: I didn't have a chance to talk to him myself, but Tacoma News-Tribune beat writer Don Ruiz chatted with Sounders GM and part owner Adrian Hanauer following Thursday's session. There doesn't seem to have been anything world-shattering, but there were a few interesting nuggets:
- Schmid's job is safe.
- The team has now sold more than 34,000 season tickets and expect that number to hit 35,000 this year. Hanauer also said he expects the Sounders to break the attendance record for a sixth straight year.
- Contrary to previous statements, Hanauer admitted that if it were entirely up to the Sounders that the FieldTurf would have been replaced this season and that he might even prefer to put in a new surface every year. The Seahawks, however, apparently like a harder surface and are more reluctant to swap it out.
Weaver couldn't be happier: I had a chance to talk to Cam Weaver about his new contract and will have a full post up later, but to say that he's pleased is a bit of an understatement. The Kent native said he had thought about joining the Sounders every offseason and that he turned down several other opportunities just for the chance to come here on trial.
Projected lineup: As usual, the media did not see the Sounders training in starting formation ahead of Saturday's match, but all indications this week point to a very similar lineup as in the opener.
Leo Gonzalez is still probably a week or two away from being fully fit, meaning Dylan Remick is likely getting another chance. The only other real question is in the midfield, where the return of Clint Dempsey will likely send one of Lamar Neagle or Kenny Cooper to the bench.
My best guess (4-2-3-1): Frei; Remick, Traore, Marshall, Yedlin; Alonso, Evans; Pappa, Dempsey, Cooper; Martins.