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Brian Schmetzer sees Stefan Frei as another member of Sounders’ dynasty of excellent goalkeepers

He credits GK coach Tommy Dutra with providing consistent goalkeeping for Seattle

MLS: Sporting KC at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday’s win over Sporting KC wasn’t pretty, but the Seattle Sounders got the win and are moving on to the conference semi-finals against FC Dallas. The stats sheet was a little disheartening—Seattle’s only shot on target was Valdez’s late winner—but the performance between the sticks was absolutely vital to the result. Stefan Frei had a brilliant match, making seven saves against a KC attack that looked as if they would break through multiple times.

But Brian Schmetzer wasn’t surprised, considering the goalkeeping dynasty that the Sounders have had since joining MLS. “If you look at the goalkeepers we’ve had at this club, they’ve been pretty outstanding,” Schmetzer said. He said that Frei’s performance against KC ranks up there with Kasey Keller’s “quadruple save” in 2011 against San Jose.

Schmetzer fully believes that Frei deserves to be mentioned in the top tier of current MLS goalkeepers too, something that Sigi Schmid said more than once since he signed Frei in 2014. Schmetzer also noted that while he sees Frei as underrated around most of the league, someone who might be even more underrated is Tommy Dutra, the Sounders’ goalkeeping coach. He praised Dutra’s work with Keller and Gspurning, and said that Dutra is due some of the credit for Frei’s improvement since arriving in Seattle. “[Frei] came to us and Tommy’s done a really good job of pushing Stef to be his best,” Schmetzer said, “and that’s what we as coaches need to focus on, getting the maximum out of our players.”

Going into the match against Dallas, Schmetzer said that he’s happy with Frei’s form, but doesn’t expect it to carry the entire team to the MLS Cup Final. Schmetzer said that “Stef had a very good performance. There are other games where his teammates kind of carry him.” This concept of picking up the slack for one’s teammates is crucial to Schmetzer’s coaching philosophy; he tries to instill belief in players not only in their own abilities, but also in the abilities of their teammates.