Europe can wait: TFC's Frei passes on training stint abroad

Stefan Frei

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TORONTO — Stefan Frei won’t be headed back to Liverpool this offseason. In fact, he's not going anywhere.

The Toronto FC goalkeeper told media earlier this week that instead he’ll stay put in Canada while he continues to recover from a fractured left fibula and torn ligaments in his ankle.

"I was going to go to Europe and train with some teams, but we're going to put that on the back-burner," Frei said Tuesday. "It was just going to put more pressure [on the ankle] and it doesn't make too much sense to do it.

"My goal is to be ready 100 percent for the preseason, which I've got lots of time for that,” he added. “I'm expecting to be at 100 percent in a couple weeks ... it doesn't make much sense to put more pressure on it and go over to Europe, where I want to look good."

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Frei, who was the No. 1 goalkeeper for TFC in each of the past three seasons and trained with Liverpool during the offseason last year, played in just one CONCACAF Champions League game and missed out on the entire MLS regular season in 2012. On March 23 he went down with the injury that cost him his season and forced him into surgery to repair the ligament damage in his ankle.

"I'm training now, which is good," Frei said. "I'm not 100 percent, but I started a couple weeks ago doing some 'keeper stuff with [goalkeeper coach Stewart Kerr]. I'm also already diving, which is good.

"But I found the ankle's very important to the goalkeeping position so I've got to give it some time and be patient. You have to be very explosive in that position and the ankle was very important for that."

Milos Kocic became the starter when Frei was injured. Freddy Hall joined the team in late July and played most of the games late in the season. Frei, who was named co-captain last year, said he felt helpless watching his team stumble to a last-place finish in 2012.

"It's something I struggled with a lot," he said. "Obviously I was co-captain and you kind of want to be a leader, especially when you see your team struggle. You want to help them out, but me being on the outside looking in you don't want to be the guy that's telling people what to do while you can't really lead by example.

"So it was difficult for me to help the team but definitely a learning experience at the same time,” he added. “I'm very excited to be able to get back on the pitch and maybe lead that way by example on the field."

Larry Millson covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.