Keeper Frei gets a shot at his former team

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comMarch 12, 2014 

New Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei stopped all three shots on goal in a 1-0 win against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday at CenturyLink Field. Frei played for Toronto FC from 2009-13.

STEVEN BISIG/USA TODAY SPORTS

After five seasons with Toronto FC, goalkeeper Stefan Frei became a Seattle Sounder.

Now, after one game with the Sounders, Frei is preparing to meet his former team when Toronto visits CenturyLink Field on Saturday.

“I’m going to try to make it a normal game,” Frei said. “I know pretty much every single guy on that team, but when that whistle blows, if it comes push to shove, I think I’m going to go through one of them if I have to. I have some good friends on that team ... but like I said, once when the referee blows that whistle, it’ll be game on.”

Frei made his professional debut with Toronto in 2009 and was the Reds’ starting goalkeeper for his first three seasons. He missed the 2012 season because of a lower-leg injury and was expected to return to his starting job in 2013, but he suffered a nose injury during preseason training. The injury was considered minor, but it provided an opportunity for Joe Bendik, who took the starting job and never let go.

After the season, Frei was traded to Seattle, which was looking to replace departed No. 1 keeper Michael Gspurning.

Now about to face his former team for the first time, Frei said he has no hard feelings about the way his career there ended.

“I had some unlucky situations with injuries and whatnot,” he said. “Joey stepped in at the right moment and did fabulous for them, so all power to him. I just have to do what I can control, which is work hard, show up to practice and try to get better. And it’s worked out

for me. I couldn’t ask to be in a better situation than I am in now.”

After winning Seattle’s training camp competition with veterans Marcus Hahnemann and Josh Ford, Frei made his Seattle debut on Saturday, a 1-0 win over defending MLS Cup champion Kansas City.

His new teammates were impressed.

“He made huge saves, which is big for us because that makes us trust him and know that he can make those key saves at key times,” right back DeAndre Yedlin said. “He kept us in the game a lot of times. It’s going great. We all know he’s a great keeper and put our trust in him.”

The lone goal against SKC was provided by forward Chad Barrett, another player with Toronto connections, having played there from 2008-2010.

No bulletin-board material is coming from him, either.

“The city treated me very well,” Barrett said Tuesday. “It was one of the places where I probably regret the most not having more of an impact and not being able to do more and make the playoffs and give something back to that city. They definitely deserve something up there because they’ve been struggling for a while.”

Toronto has never made the playoffs since coming into Major League Soccer in 2007. The club made an offseason push in an effort to change that with the high-profile signings of U.S. national team striker Michael Bradley, English striker Jermain Defoe, and Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

The new-look Reds will make their debut Saturday after a bye week.

ADDED TIME

Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (knee) was held out of training Tuesday, but he is expected to return Thursday and to play Saturday. … Defender Leo Gomez (groin) indicated he might need one more week before being fit for league play. ... The Sounders are off Wednesday.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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