Frei’s job as Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper in jeopardy

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comMay 28, 2014 

Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei was nominated Tuesday for MLS’ save of the week, while both of the goals against him in Seattle’s 2-2 draw Saturday at Vancouver, B.C., were nominated for goal of the week.

It has been that kind of up and down season for Frei, who is tied for the fourth-most goals allowed in MLS while also playing every minute for the league’s top team.

The latter statistic seemed to trump the first for coach Sigi Schmid when asked for an assessment of Frei’s season.

“He’s the starting goalkeeper right now for the team that’s got the most points in the league,” Schmid said.

Yet, when asked if that means

Frei will remain the starting goalkeeper Saturday when Real Salt Lake visits, Schmid said only that he and goalkeeper coach Tommy Dutra would continue to evaluate the play of Frei and reserves Marcus Hahnemann and Josh Ford.

“There’s constantly competition at that position,” he said. “Our other goalkeepers had a chance to play (Monday) in the reserve game. Tommy and me are looking at that and talking about that, and we’ll see how we go forward.

“We’ve got two more games before the (World Cup) break, and we’ll see what we do in those two games.”

The Sounders stand atop MLS with an 8-3-2 record, but their 21 goals allowed tie them for fifth from the bottom.

“We’d like to give up less goals, for sure,” Schmid said. “But we’ve also scored the most goals in the league. So we’re going to emphasize the positive side of it: that we’ve scored more goals than anybody else. And hopefully we can continue to do that and shore up what we need to shore up defensively.”

The Sounders got goals Saturday from Chad Barrett and Gonzalo Pineda, but those were equaled by Vancouver goals from Erik Hurtado and Gershon Koffie.

Schmid placed most of the blame for the first goal on defenders Osvaldo Alonso and Djimi Traore, who fell over one another leaving Hurtado one-on-one with Frei.

However, Frei accepted blame for the second goal, which started when Seattle midfielder Marco Pappa played a ball back toward his own goal. It was headed for the far touchline, but Frei left the penalty area in pursuit. When he caught up to it, he kicked it about 40 yards up the pitch, where Koffie lofted it back into the empty goal.

“It was just a terrible mistake on his part,” Dutra said. “It was something that you learn very early that creeps in sometimes; just a lack of concentration at the wrong time. … Kick it into our supporters; kick it off the sideboards – do anything you can except for that.”

Schmid and Dutra both praised the way Frei responded after the error, holding the Whitecaps scoreless the rest of the way. Two of his four saves came after the blunder.

The one that drew the save-of-the-week nomination came in the seventh minute of stoppage time, when Frei went down and to his right to punch away a would-be game-winner by Koffie.

“After the error Stef came back and made a great save on (Kekuta) Manneh, made a great save on Koffie,” Schmid said. “He’s shown the character to stay focused and come up with some big saves. So you’ve got to give him a positive mark, as well.”

ADDED TIME

Federal Way graduate Lamar Neagle (hamstring) went through full training Tuesday. Barrett (illness) was held out, although he was said to be feeling better. Traore (leg) was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam Tuesday. … Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan was voted MLS player of the week after scoring two goals in the Galaxy’s 4-1 win against Philadelphia. The first of those also gave Donovan sole possession of the MLS career goals record at 135.

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

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