Sounders FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei leads the league in wins. That cannot be denied, but he also committed a memorable error that led to a big goal in Saturday’s 2-2 tie in Vancouver — Frei’s second high-profile blunder of the season.
There is something to be said of the fact that Seattle didn’t lose either of those games, having also come back for a road win at FC Dallas following a Frei mistake. And in both games, it was Frei who made several result-preserving saves in the closing minutes.
Still, when you have a backup like Marcus Hahnemann, there might not be much room for error, and coach Sigi Schmid was asked about his goalkeeper situation after Tuesday’s practice:
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(When a player makes such an epic blunder like Stefan Frei’s, do you have to address it with him or does he already know?) “After the game, we talked about it in the locker room as a team, and I’ve met with Stefan individually, as well, and we’ve talked about it. It’s always difficult. Defensive positions are always difficult in the sense that you can play 99 percent of the game great, and that one little error — all of a sudden it’s a goal — and you look bad. As a forward, you can play 99 percent of the game badly and miss chances, and you score in that key moment at the end of the game and you’re the hero. It’s a whole different dynamic. Psychologically, it’s a much tougher position to be in, to a certain extent. … Stefan after the error came back and made a great save on Manneh, made a great save on Koffie, the shot right at the end of the game where he went to his right and the referee had let the game go on. That was another good save. The one thing he’s shown in the two games he’s made an error is that he’s shown the character to stay focused and come up with some big saves. So you have to give him a positive mark, as well.”
(How do you assess Stefan Frei’s performance overall this season?) “He’s the starting goalkeeper right now for the team that has the most points in the league.”
(So he’ll be your starting goalkeeper Saturday?) “He’s the starting goalkeeper for the team with the most points in the league through our first 13 games.”
(There is a segment of the fan base, though, that sees that error in the context of Frei’s season, including another big error, and says it is time for a change. How would you respond?) “It’s something we’ll evaluate, and there is constantly competition in that position. Our other goalkeepers had a chance to play yesterday in the reserve game. (Goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra) and I are looking at that and talking about that, and we’ll see how we move forward. We’ve got two more games before the break and we’ll see what we do in those two games.”