Sounders FC

Dutra in charge of keeping Sounders goalkeepers in top form

Tom Dutra knows what top goalkeeping looks like.

He saw it while as a player at Timberline High School twice a year when the Blazers played North Thurston and Kasey Keller in the Narrows League.

He served as a backup to the great Marcus Hahnemann when the two played on the Seattle Sounders A-League championship squad together in 1996.

And he continues to tutor the best of the best in Major League Soccer as Seattle’s goalkeeper coach.

“To see all the great players who have come through this place, you feel like you have a responsibility to come out every day and do your job,” Dutra said.

The 44-year-old has had longstanding ties with Keller. They grew up together in Lacey and shared the same club goalkeeper coach in Rob Walker, who is now the director of soccer at Saint Martin’s University.

When Keller was in the English Premier League with Tottenham, Dutra worked him out individually in the offseason to get him ready.

And when Keller was signed to become Seattle’s first goalkeeper in the MLS era, Dutra was kept on from his days with the USL-1 Sounders to become Keller’s full-time coach.

“I have always had a passion for the position,” Dutra said. “Every place I went to as a professional player, I kept a notebook on what worked with every goalkeeper coach I ever had. I even bought my own video camera ... so I could learn the position and study it from a different angle.”

Now, Dutra oversees the daily training of Stefan Frei, who earlier this season eclipsed Keller (93 matches) as the franchise’s leader in goalkeeping service. Through these playoffs and heading into the MLS Cup on Saturday, Frei has made 110 appearances in goal.

“Stefan is a grinder — a real pro,” Dutra said. “He is open to working on things that are weaknesses. He analyzes things. That’s been fun for me.”

In return, Frei has rejuvenated his injury-plagued MLS career and is now one of the top goalkeepers in the league.

“As a unit, we work our butts off — and that starts with (Dutra) trying to push us,” Frei said. “Everything we do, we take the extra step to make it game-related ... because that helps transfer our work over into games.”

As a player and assistant coach, including Saturday’s MLS Cup, this will be Dutra’s seventh championship final.

“Being from here, it means a lot, to be honest with you,” Dutra said. “I never felt like I had to gain credibility with the goalkeepers I have worked with. I just did my job. If it wasn’t good enough at the end of the day, OK, we’ll do better next time. If it was good enough, it meant our players were having success.”

Extra time

Wow, that was fast. League officials announced that MLS Cup tickets for 36,000-capacity BMO Field sold out in three minutes Monday morning. If additional tickets become available, they will be released to the public during the rest of the week. Fans who leave their mobile phone numbers with Ticketmaster will receive text messages if and when those tickets are on the market. ... On an MLS Cup teleconference with North American media, Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer was asked if his squad would have any difficulty adjusting to the forecasted sub-freezing temperatures for the championship match. He laughed, noting it was 33 degrees with a mixture of rain and snow before training at Starfire Sports on Monday. “We’re pretty far north ourselves,” Schmetzer said. ... With so much time in between the Western Conference finals and the MLS Cup, Schmetzer said he’s noticed his players a bit annoyed recently at Starfire training. “They are getting a little testy,” the coach said. The team leaves for Toronto on Wednesday. ... No Sounders players were selected to the “MLS Best XI” — or top 11 players in the league for 2016. Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco, the league’s reigning most valuable player, was one of three forwards named to the all-star team.

Todd Milles: @ManyHatsMilles

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