TUKWILA, Wash. – Stefan Frei may be just one win short of tying his career high, but that hasn’t shielded him from growing calls for the Seattle Sounders to replace him as their goalkeeper.
Those calls only grew louder after Saturday’s game, in which Frei made a rather regrettable blunder that led directly to the Vancouver Whitecaps’ go-ahead goal in a 2-2 draw at BC Place. It was the second time this season that Frei made an easily avoidable mistake that led to a goal, with the other coming a couple of months ago against FC Dallas.
Although head coach Sigi Schmid didn’t make any guarantees about who would start Saturday at home against Real Salt Lake (4 pm ET; MLS Live), he made sure to acknowledge Frei has started the first 13 games in a season in which the Sounders lead the Supporters’ Shield race.
“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,” Schmid said. “So you have to give him a positive mark for that, as well.
“It’s something we’ll evaluate, and there is constantly competition in that position,” Schmid continued. “Our other goalkeepers had a chance to play [on Monday] 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.”
One thing that could play into Schmid’s decision-making process is the status of the Sounders’ backline, where changes could already be forced. Chad Marshall missed the Whitecaps game with an illness that caused him to lose five pounds over the last few days, while Djimi Traore is scheduled to undergo an MRI on the groin injury he suffered during the match.
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It’s entirely possible the Sounders could go into this week’s match with just two healthy center backs. Aside from Zach Scott and Jalil Anibaba, the Sounders' other options would be players who aren’t naturally center backs. Brad Evans filled in there, and Schmid said he’d be one option. Dylan Remick and Andy Rose could also fill in, as they have both started the last two Reserve League games at center back.
“They both played very well,” Schmid said about Remick and Rose, who held their own against the likes Robbie Findley and Olmes Garcia. “Being short center backs, getting them the experience there makes sense especially with what we’re facing right now.”