By now, you’ve probably you’ve probably heard that Stefan Frei has, once again, been snubbed for Goalkeeper of the Year. Despite leading the league in shutouts and backstopping the best defense in the league, Frei wasn’t even named one of the three finalists.
That Frei won’t win isn’t necessarily a shocker. Roman Bürki, rightly or wrongly, has been presented as an MVP candidate and has a strong statistical case to make. The advanced metrics suggest he has kept out a league-best 8.29 goals that the xG model suggests he should have conceded, which ranks as one of the six best seasons of all time.
The issue is more than Frei not even being among the top 3 vote-getters. In addition to his very obvious stats, Frei also had another solid season when compared against xG. He ranked ninth in MLS in that category.
Meanwhile, the other two Goalkeeper of the Year finalists – Orlando City’s Pedro Gallese and FC Cincinnati’s Roman Celentano – ranked 15th and 29th, respectively.
Of course, this is old hat for Frei at this point. For whatever reason, Frei doesn't seem to get much love when it comes to Goalkeeper of the Year voting. Despite being the only MLS goalkeeper to have a positive post-shot xG +/- in each of the past seven seasons – only Matt Turner has prevented more cumulative goals in that time – he has only been named as a finalist for this award twice (in 2017 and 2018) and has only even been among the top 5 vote-getters one other time (in 2020).
Over the years, Frei has been asked about this repeatedly. He says that he was genuinely hurt when he didn't win in 2018 – a year he lost to someone who actually allowed MORE goals than the xG model suggested he should have – and has learned to focus on other things.
“It used to be one of my goals," Frei just told Herculez Gomez on his podcast this week. "In 2018, statistically, it was my best year, and I felt really good about my chances. I was devastated when I didn’t get it. I’m not going to lie. From that point on, I made sure that things I could not control would not be my goals."
What Frei has instead focused on is things like team performance, an ethos that has served him well. As the Sounders prepare for another run at MLS Cup, Frei can take solace in the fact that he's won two MLS Cups and a Concacaf Champions League title. He also hasn't exactly been denied individual accolades, claiming the 2016 MLS Cup MVP award as well as winning the Best Player Award in the 2022 CCL.
In the meantime, Frei will be out of contract at the end of the season and is making a pretty solid case for a multi-year extension. He can bolster that case by adding another winner's medal to his trophy case.
"I’m trying to showcase what I’m capable of," he said after the St. Louis City match. "If there are teams that appreciate what I can bring, then that’s great. You have to do your talking on the field. I tried to do what’s asked. I’m trying to make this as long of a season as possible, that we can collect hardware because that’s the only reason we’re here.
"We’ll see about me personally where I’m wanted and where I play next."
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Looking back at the week's news
USL Super League teams add famous owners; MLS Playoff previews; violence in lower league soccer
In Spokane, the women's team that will start competing in 2025 added athletes Trey Flowers, Dhani Jones, Annie Hawkins and Treana Allen to its ownership group. In Oakland the Roots & Soul ownership group added East Bay legend Jason Kidd. Similar to the Sounders adding Ken Griffey, Jr. and Ben Haggerty, these additions are more about getting additional eyeballs on the teams than they are about consistent regular participation in leadership of the team, though some from the Spokane side may work regularly with their teams.
If you're the superstitious type, scroll fast – the Seattle Sounders are picked to win it all by Graham Ruthven in the Guardian; Jonathan Sigal likes the combination of Seattle's defense, coaching staff and legacy; and former SaH writer, now MLSsoccer's Casey Dunau says the Sounders are primed for a deep playoff run.
Several Open Cup qualifying campaigns were marred by violence. In one, a New York Renegades player threatened to stab the referee. In the UPSL, Los Angeles team Club Garrafones will no longer be competing due to the brawl they started.
- Laura Harvey reportedly on shortlist for USWNT head coach. Yes, this could mean that Reign lose another good head coach to the national team.
- The 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup playing dates are out. The only MLS question left is who will get the spot for winning MLS Cup.
- There's a chance that Paramount+ is sold to Amazon or Apple, which would help consolidate soccer rights.
- The best selling adidas kit in the world? Inter Miami.
- Former Sounder Oalex Anderson made the USL League One Best XI.
- After missing the playoffs and firing their coach, the Portland Timbers are about to part ways with a half-dozen key players.
- AT&T Stadium in Dallas might lose Men's World Cup 2026 rights due to it being too narrow to add the necessary grass. SoFi in Los Angeles is also facing remodel difficulties. Fields need to be ready for FIFA by March 2026.
- Former soccer player Brett Hite is now one of Spokane's up-and-coming musicians.
- I haven't plugged my D&D stuff like I used to, but this free product is a test release of how to add team sports to the world's most popular RPG.
- Facing criticism, the NHL removed its ban on Pride tape.
Puget Sound Soccer
Sounders play on Devil's Night. This is what you should watch while you wait.
Sacramento Republic vs San Antonio at 7 pm PT on ESPN+. This is one of the best USL Championship matchups of the round. Justin Dhillon turned into a frequent sub at center forward who has taken over the San Antonio all-time assist lead.
Canada's XNT vs Brazil is at 11:30 am PT. Catch one of the final national team games for Christine Sinclair, one of the all-time soccer greats, on Fox Soccer Plus and Fubo TV.
Both MLS matches Saturday are free on Apple TV. LAFC hosting Vancouver at 6 pm PT is probably going to be more entertaining than Philly hosting New England at 2 pm PT.
Forge vs Cavalry is the CPL final at 4 pm PT. It's on Fox Soccer Plus and Fubo TV. Both teams have already qualified for the 2024 CCC because they finished 1 and 2 in the regular season.
USWNT vs Colombia, again, at 2:30 pm PT on Telemundo, TNT, Peacock and Max. Root for no injuries, because Reign will need their players healthy for next weekend’s playoff semifinal.
If you only watch one MLS game this weekend, watch Houston Dynamo vs Real Salt Lake free on Apple TV at 3 p.m. These two sides are hot late in the season. The winner faces the winner of St. Louis v. Sporting KC (5 pm PT/FS1/Apple TV)