Stefan Frei’s sprawling stop of Fredy Montero’s free kick last week has officially been named MLS Save of the Week. It would, of course, have been an absolute tragedy if it had failed to win. So rather than celebrate the winning of a frankly meaningless award, I’m choosing to use this news as an opportunity to watch this absolutely amazing save again.
There are a few elements I’m not sure I fully appreciated when I first saw this.
For starters, the deflection made this a much tougher save than it would have been otherwise. Usually, when a free kick hits the wall that’s the end of the equation. In this case, however, it barely slowed down at all but did change enough direction that it was clearly goal-bound. As Joseph Mondello astutely pointed out in his breakdown of the save on SoundersFC.com, Frei’s patience in committing is what allows him to make the save at all.
I also continue to be amazed that Frei didn’t just stop the shot, but he also managed to get the rebound. It wasn’t an easy rebound to grab either, as he had to get to his feet and pounce on a ball that was in a potentially dangerous spot.
Really, though, the reaction from the Whitecaps’ bench says it all.