Seattle Sounders cruised to a 2-0 triumph over FC Dallas in game one of their best-of-three series in MLS Cup playoffs at Lumen Field, thanks in part to several key saves from goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
Albert Rusnak and Jordan Morris were on the scoresheet for Seattle to propel them to victory, but Frei comes out of the game perhaps as an unsung hero for Schmetzer’s side.
The 37-year-old veteran shot-stepper made four saves on the night while facing an xG of 1.13, a sign of a still top-level goalkeeper that somehow wasn’t name a finalist in the year-end awards despite keeping 14 clean sheets (most in MLS).
“You gotta have players who make plays. We very easily could have been down one- or two-nothing…I just can’t believe why he’s not in the finalist group for Goalkeeper of the Year, I just don’t get it. I have no idea,” said head coach Brian Schmetzer after the win.
Frei and his backline kept things in check over the course of the regular season, conceding just 32 goals — tied for joint-best in the league with Nashville SC. Frei’s already a club legend for the Sounders, but he added to his story by making his 350th appearance for the club in the win — the most in team history.
“There’s been so many saves in critical moments of games where Stef has done what goalkeepers are supposed to do, which is keep the ball out of the back of the net. In the biggest moments, he keeps the ball [out of the net], he keeps our team in games,” Schmetzer said.
Should Seattle make a deep run in the postseason, Frei will have played a huge part as well as the likes of Morris and Joao Paulo.
The Sounders have the chance to effectively sweep Dallas in game two on November 4, with the Toros fighting for their playoff lives down 1-0 in the series.