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2016 Player Profile #3: Stefan Frei

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The MLS Cup was his seventh major trophy. He was also the MVP of the game.

MLS Cup Final: Sounders vs. Toronto Photo credit - MikeRussellFoto

Stefan Frei’s 2016 and MLS Cup performaces entered him into the United States goalkeeper picture. His citizenship is nearly finished and then he will make the switch. Now entering his fourth season with the Seattle Sounders, the 30-year-old is approaching the peak age period for high-end keepers.

The ranking is based on several hundred Sounder at Heart readers’ votes. Realio rated every single MLS regular season and playoff game as well as the two CONCACAF Champions League matches. He did not rate USL or USOC play.

Stefan Frei 2016

Competitions Minutes Starts Subs Goals Against Save % Realio Rating
Competitions Minutes Starts Subs Goals Against Save % Realio Rating
MLS 2970 33 0 41 68.9% 6.52
MLS Playoffs 570 6 0 3 89.7% 7.67
USOC 0 0 0 0 N/A N/A
CCL 180 2 0 5 61.5% 6
USL 0 0 0 0 N/A N/A
TOTALS 3720 41 0 49 70.9%
Average 6.659

Shot Stopping:

Frei combines great positioning with solid reactions. Both of those elements improved from ‘15 to ‘16. He looks to grab more often than parry. Matured throughout the year and excelled during the MLS Cup Playoffs. Review that save percentage again; against the best teams in the league, he saved 90%, sorry, 89.7% of the shots he faced. That’s disgusting, good disgusting.

Let’s watch The Save again.

You voted it the moment of the year in 2016. It became a legend immediately.

Distribution:

He does not make errors in distribution, often counting on his strong passers to move the ball up the field rather than booting it clear. His punting has range and decent accuracy, but will not change games. Expect him to continue to use throws for ball entry.

Leadership:

Stefan is a true believer in Seattle. He loves the region. While on the pitch he has the final call among a committee of veterans (Evans, Marshall, Torres). Off the field and in the locker room he leads both by example and vocally.

Realio’s Thoughts:

It took a spectacular save to remind everyone how good Stefan Frei really is, but he has been putting up consistently great ratings for years now as a member of the Sounders. Frei does almost everything technically perfect, and this year mixed in some jaw dropping (and game saving) keeper acrobatics as well.

After an average start with 6 ratings in both CCL games, Frei struggled in the first MLS game of the season. He earned his lowest score of the entire year against SKC, which included a brutal muffed save that allowed the only goal of the game. He also picked up a knock, to add injury to insult, resulting in him missing the next regular season game. Although this was an inauspicious start, it would end up being the only game he missed all season, on the way to a massive 41 appearances in 2016.

Under Coach Schmid, Frei was very good, earning three MOTM awards on the way to a 6.47 average. Frei didn’t miss a beat with the coaching change, and added another MOTM to go with a 6.57 average for Brian Schmetzer. He missed but the single MLS game.

Stefan’s 33 appearances and 6.52 MLS regular season average were great, but he absolutely blew this away in the playoffs. Starting off with a perfect 10 against SKC and finishing with another perfect 10 against Toronto in the final, Frei earned a massive 7.67 rating in the playoffs, which was a full point over his regular season scores. I cannot overstate how tremendous he was in the postseason, leading all facets from the back. He almost single-handedly kept this team moving forward to the cup, culminating in not only the best finals save of all time but a dominating shootout performance to seal the win. Frei was fantastic in all six matches of the postseason, earning an impressive four shutouts and clearly increasing his level of play in the postseason.

In Frei the Sounders have a humble, durable, young, top five keeper who somehow is still criminally underrated by those outside Seattle. He turned it on when his team most desperately needed him, and the MVP award in the final was finally some recognition for a guy who kept his team in the playoff hunt all year.

Best Case 2017:

MLS Goalkeeper of the Year