For a goalkeeper like Seattle Sounders’ Stefan Frei, errors on the pitch aren’t a common occurrence. But in his team’s 3-3 draw with the New England Revolution on Sunday, a big mistake by Frei allowed the visitors to go up 1-0 fairly early in the match against the run of play. But being the excellent leader we all know Frei is, he took ownership for his mistake and thanked his teammates for scoring the late goals necessary to secure at least a draw against the Revs. “The response was in the hands of my teammates and I’m thankful and proud of how they fought all the way to the end.”
Humble in the few moments that he has to own up to situations like this, Frei didn’t try to make any excuses for his mistake. “I didn’t take my eye off of it,” he said, “it just moved and I tried to stay with it, but I made a blunder.” He also recognized that because of the way the team was playing, him gifting the Revolution their first goal despite the home side’s dominance may have turned the tide. “We’re starting to really get into a groove and dominate possession and I gift them a goal. It’s difficult, throws our rhythm off and it’s difficult.”
(Avert your eyes, Children!) pic.twitter.com/gyg43LP3bl— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) April 30, 2017
Head coach Brian Schmetzer praised his team’s “fighting spirit” both in this game and in the match earlier this season against the Montreal Impact that they came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2. Frei said he was eternally grateful for his teammates’ ability to attack the opponents’ goal relentlessly, allowing them to eventually secure the draw. “The character we showed to get back is amazing, that’s the one positive take from this. The fight, the spirit, the togetherness to try and bail your teammates out and ask them to come in and save you.”
Team captain Osvaldo Alonso said that nobody on the team blamed or judged Frei for his error, that nothing had to be said in the locker room at halftime. “We didn’t have to say anything, Stefan is one of the best goalkeepers in the league. Mistakes happen, every time he saved us in the [MLS Cup] final, we don’t have to say anything to him.”
Frei said that internally, he knew what happened and that his mistake cost him. But just as his teammates didn’t have to say anything to him at halftime, he didn’t have to say anything to his teammates. He said that they knew what he was thinking: “I fucked up. Who wants to bail me out, please step up.” Frei said he was thankful that the entire team stepped up, another testament to the fighting spirit of the squad.
Unsurprisingly, Frei rebounded from his mistake almost immediately, making an excellent save to deny the Revolution right after he conceded their first. He noted that while it didn’t completely help him get over his mistake, it certainly helped him move on. “For me personally it was important to forget that one right away and make some saves in the first half to try and forget that play and remain focused.”
Goalkeepers aren’t always given a chance to redeem themselves, Frei said, because they usually can’t chase down balls or tackle opponents or score goals. “I’m happy that I got opportunities right away to rebound quickly from it and contribute a little bit.” Aside from the Revolution’s third goal in which Frei was 1v1 with Juan Agudelo, he contributed a number of solid saves throughout the rest of the match to keep them from scoring more and give his teammates the chance to complete their epic comeback.