TORONTO, Ontario — There were very, very few positives to take from the Seattle Sounders’ 2-0 loss to Toronto FC at BMO Field on Saturday night. But Stefan Frei’s monstrous performance in goal was one of them. He made nine saves, the second-most in MLS Cup final history. And even though he was eventually beaten, he was by far the best Sounder on the field. Often very open and willing to talk with media, Frei had a lot to say about his team and their poor result on Saturday.
"I think we needed to push the reboot button at halftime to ensure the second half is different,” he said. “The quality we have in this locker room and the way we play when we are good was not on display in the first half. We needed for our players to find a way into the game and for us as a team to find our way into the game.”
That nothing really changed after halftime was especially frustrating, Frei said, as he was the one facing the bulk of the onslaught .
“Sometimes a restart at the half can provide that but it just seemed like we went out there and did the same thing again which is very disappointing. It was disappointing to accept the pace of the game and we all knew we had so much more to show. As a result, it was a totally deserved win for Toronto.”
The similarities to last year were not lost on Frei, either.
“You can’t expect to bend limitlessly because at some point you are going to break,” he said. “Last year we were able to bend and not break and that was great. It needed to be a wakeup call for us at halftime and shake up the game and change something because we were not going to survive another half like that and lo and behold we continued the same way and didn’t survive the second half.”
But despite the lack of any discernible change in the Sounders’ performance and game plan in the second half, Frei described how his team just wasn’t good enough. “Every game is different and ultimately we know what our coach wants us to do. Players need to find a way into the game whether it be a good first touch or a good first pass and for me it felt like we failed at all those things.”
For a team that has been built around collective values instilled by Schmetzer, Stefan Frei said that the Sounders were broken as individuals, unable to come together and face the immense obstacle before them.
“We did not find a way into the game as individuals and therefore as a collective unit we were not able to find our way into the game,” he said. “We are a possession-based team where we like the opponent to chase us and get tired and start mounting a little pressure but if our first touches are garbage and our passes are astray you’ll never be able to achieve and we found it very hard to get into the game.”
Many have danced around statements—even Schmetzer refrained from directly criticizing his team in such a manner—but it’s hard to argue with anything Frei said.