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Stefan Frei wants a different kind of All Star Game

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The Sounders goalkeeper was honored to make the roster, but wishes the format was very different.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

TUKWILA, Wash. — After being named to his first ever MLS All Star Game roster, Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei has mixed feelings about the competition. He’s honored to be picked by coach Veljko Paunović, but Frei also recognizes that the format the game is played in is far from ideal for the league. He said he was a “little surprised” considering the Sounders’ 2017 season so far, but that he is “excited for the opportunity to play against one of the best teams in the world.”

Frei had a few things to say about the All Star Game, and what he thinks would make it better for the fans and players alike.

On being picked by the coach, rather than the fans or the commissioner:

“I’m really happy that I got the coach’s pick, because it means someone who actually understands the game sees something in you. I’m honored. I think that’s awesome.”

On the current format of the All-Star Game:

“I don’t like it. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t like it. The way players are voted in by fans and asking for participation by fans. Our fans, I’d argue all club’s fans, are too smart to vote for their own players, they don’t want them to congest the schedule. That completely ruins everything there.”

On the commissioner’s picks:

“I don’t understand that either.”

On how he would fix the ASG:

“I think it should be something like NBA, and at the end of the season. Something where you have East against West, where it’s going to be fun, we’re really showcasing the talent in the league. I think we have enough talent in the league, we have enough good guys to field two squads to play each other. Maybe throw in a FIFA challenge to show off individual skills, like the dunk contest in the NBA. That’s what I’d envision, something that’s really cool that people would enjoy.”

On what changing the format would mean to the players:

“It would be fair for the players, too. In the end, you have to remember that for guys who might not be the high profile players, these are the biggest bonuses they can achieve. Just because they’re not famous or something, they’re not going to get a nod into the All-Star? I think that sucks, in my book. If you want to maintain that fans can vote, then make it so they can really vote for who they think should make it and go from there.”

On his history with Real Madrid:

“I’ve had the chance to play against Real Madrid in the past with Toronto. We had a friendly against them. It was the first game that Kaka, Benzema, and Ronaldo lined up for them back in the day. I think I got scored on three times in 40 minutes by Raul, Benzema, and Ronaldo ... so it was a good day for me. It’s cool, they’re arguably one of the best sides in the world. They’re fighting for spots, they’re not going to take this game lightly, which is a cool thing for us to go out as MLS collectively and have a good game.”

On working with goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra and his fellow keepers:

“We’re having fun on a daily basis, we’re trying to improve on a daily basis, and I think it shows in our goalkeeper unit collectively. We have a good time, but we like to work hard and get better.”

On comparing individual accolades with winning trophies for Seattle:

“It’s really nice, I’m not gonna lie. Soccer’s a team sport, and ultimately that’s what you play for, to win trophies collectively. It’s something you couldn’t achieve by yourself. Those are the more important ones to me. I’ve had a really good time here with the Sounders, winning some big time trophies over the years I’ve been here. It’s really nice to get on top of it. It wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t have good teammates. All credit goes to them, I hope I can repay that on any given day in practice or in games and help them out as much as I can.”

So, while it’s clear that Frei has some serious issues with how the All-Star Game works in MLS, he still recognizes how much of an honor it is to be named to the team by the coach. He also seems to relish the idea of getting another crack at Madrid after his last encounter with them. Regardless, the opportunity speaks volumes about Frei and his career so far. Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer summed it up best when asked if Frei deserved the nod: “Absolutely. And it’s not just because of one save in the Final. He’s been good. He’s been very good for a long time.”