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May 27, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra on Stefan Frei’s big mistake, competition at the position

A couple reporters caught up with Sounders FC goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra after Tuesday’s practice. The context was obviously a talking point involving his position group as Stefan Frei made a big mistake in Vancouver over the weekend.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

*     *     *

(Stefan Frei talked Saturday about the life of the goalkeeper: you make one mistake and that’s all people remember, even if you make a bunch of saves after. How do you evaluate his performance in Vancouver?) “It was just a terrible mistake on his part. It was something that you learn very early that creeps in sometimes, just a lack of concentration at the wrong time. At the same time, he was able to make the saves at the end of the game. It is the life of a goalkeeper. Everybody will see his mistakes, and he’s the one that’s picking the ball out of the back of the net. You learn and you move on and train hard.”

(You have mentioned before that Frei is sort of a work in progress. Is this maybe some of what you were alluding to?) “The save at the end of the game was really the save. When I was talking about a work in progress, it was seeing if he could make those saves, because he wasn’t necessarily making a lot of those early on. Those were the ones I was always trying to see if he could make. Going back to that work in progress, that’s for sure what I was talking about. Trying to get him in good positions to make good saves and get on with it.”

(That situation, a teammate kicking the ball toward your net into the corner, doesn’t come up a lot. What is the ideal play there?) “Kick it into our supporters. Kick it off the sideboards. … Do anything you can except for that.”

(As a coach, when someone makes a mistake like that, how much do you address and how much do you know that he knows he messed up?) “You have to address it, but at the same time, you have to acknowledge what he did at the end of the game, as well. The first thing I went up to him and said was, ‘Look, be pissed off, be upset, go thank our supporters and then we’ll talk about it later. But you were able to come back and make some good saves.’ I think the frustrating thing for him was he was putting together a good game. He made that mistake, and it happens. You just have to learn from it.”

(Did you see anything on that first goal?) “The guy just blasts it. Couldn’t get a reaction. You hope it hits your face, because he’s narrowed the angle and just beat him for pace, blasted it right over his shoulder. Stayed big. If he cheats it, then you can question it, but he stood his line and it just beat him for pace. … He had the whole goal to work with, so in that position as a goalkeeper, you just have to stay big as long as you can and hope you can get a reaction. Or you stay as big as you can and hopefully he hits you with the ball. He has the whole goal. At that point, once he cuts it back and gets it back on his right foot, he’s got the whole goal to work with. If you starts to lean and he beats you, then you say, ‘Look, you cheated it and paid the price,’ but you can’t really fault him for that one.”

(Has Frei been around long enough to get a feel for how he deals with adversity?) “He’s been able to deal with it pretty well because he’s come back and made some saves. Today he was fantastic in training and just got on with it. Like I’ve said, he’s been a sponge, and all three of the guys really push each other, and they’re all supportive of each other, as well.”

(Is there competition at the pecking order right now?) “I think ‘competition’ is the right word. They’re still competing every day for that spot and still pushing. Marcus wants the position. Josh wants the position. All they do is go out, and given the opportunity, go out and give the best performance they can give. Just be ready and be ready at the right time. That’s all they can do. That’s what we’ve told them. There are no guarantees in any of this. You guys come out and train as hard as you can and see what happens, but take care of yourself and play well.”

(How do you handle the playing time in reserve games? We saw Hahnemann and Ford split time Monday…) “We want to make sure we get Josh (playing time) so he’s still developing, but we want to make sure we get Marcus ready. So that’s kind of how we did it. I don’t personally… and Sigi’s the same way, we don’t always necessarily like splitting goalkeepers, but is a testament to how strong Josh is mentally that he can pick up the speed of the game so quickly.”

| More in Sounders FC, Stop and chats

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