Stefan Frei's New Start with Seattle Sounders
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Preseason game No. 1 was Stefan Frei's to help save. The new Seattle Sounders goalkeeper held the San Jose Earthquakes scoreless until the 86th minute, playing the full 90 in the Sounders' 2-1 win at Kino Stadium.
Frei saw his first true game action as a Sounder after being acquired from Toronto FC in December. He's competing with another veteran, Marcus Hahnemann, for the No. 1 goalkeeper job in Seattle.
"You can practice all you want, it's really getting minutes under your belt that is so helpful. Last year, I didn't play all that much so I try to take as much out of these games as I can," Frei said. "See how people like to receive the ball or how I can play long balls to who and what not."
Frei showed good distance with his goal kicks and got his right hand up just in time to deflect an Earthquakes chance from Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi in the 24th minute. He also got up from a nasty collision with teammate Jimmy Ockford in the final moments of the match and finished the game.
Frei is coming back from a broken leg that allowed for him to play only one league match in the past two seasons. Before that, he became TFC's all-time leader in matches played.
Frei welcomes competition for the job and says he hopes it lasts all season long. "That's going to force everybody to raise their game," he said.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said Hahnemann will play all 90 minutes of Thursday's match against Vancouver in Casa Grande. "With each day, each training session his confidence grows," Schmid said of Frei. "I always think it's better for a goalkeeper to get a whole game, go ahead and manage your game. Marcus will get that opportunity tomorrow."
Schmid pointed out that Hahnemann, while competing for the top job this year, is not the long-term plan in goal for Seattle at his advanced age. Frei, 27, is experienced while still relatively young. "Stefan knows that that's an opportunity for him," Schmid said.
Frei is among a number of veterans who joined the Sounders in the offseason. He's looking to prove himself and is glad to start fresh.
"Having played with Toronto for five years and never having reached the playoffs, Seattle, it's a different standard," Frei said. "Seattle has reached the playoffs every year. With that being said, they weren't very satisfied last year with just reaching the playoffs, so it's a different standard. I'm really excited to hopefully help this team raise it to another level and get further into the playoffs."
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