Stefan Frei doesn’t want to be Sounders’ MLS Cup hero again
Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei says he hopes he doesn’t have to be the hero in the MLS Cup final for the second straight year.
Saturday’s game is a rematch of last year’s championship against Toronto FC, when Frei moved quickly and dived to push aside Jozy Altidore’s looping header in extra time. He was named the most valuable player after the Sounders won the title on penalties.
Last year, the Sounders prevailed the title without registering a single shot on goal during 120 minutes of regular and extra time, but he’s hoping that will change at BMO Field on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, ESPN).
“Hopefully, I don’t have to make another save. I would really appreciate it if one of our strikers could come through,” Frei told reporters on Monday.
Coming off a 5-0 aggregate win over the Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference finals, the Sounders’ attack is much more prolific than a year ago, when talisman Clint Dempsey was out while dealing with a heart ailment.
Dempsey is back in peak form after being named MLS Comeback Player of Year last month, while Jordan Morris could return from a hamstring injury to make his first since August, and Frei said Seattle’s tactics would be different.
“We know every game is its own beast,” Frei said. “So, it’s not like we’re going to go up there and be like ‘Oh, we’ll just do the same thing we did last year.’ Obviously, there are different factors in play.”
Frei said Seattle’s attacking starts at the back, which will get a boost as Roman Torres returns from a suspension.
“It does start with the back and the movement in front of the back five, in front of my four guys and in front of me,” Frei said. “We can pass amongst ourselves as much as we want, but if there’s no movement in front of them, then we can’t advance the ball.
“So, I think we’ve worked really well on movement off the ball, on timing, on spacing. All of those things have been a pretty dominant feature in our practice sessions to try to get better at it.”
Frei played for Toronto for five seasons through 2013, and he said he’s ready for anything the fans have prepared for him.
“I expect them to try [to rattle me], but so does everybody,” Frei said. “It doesn’t matter if you go back to your old squad or if you go to any other [place]. If you go down to Portland, trust me, they’re not nice down there either. You learn to deal with it and zone it out and just focus on the [game].”
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