Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei has been nominated for MLS save of the week, while both goals against him in the 2-2 draw at Vancouver were nominated for goals of the week.
One of those followed what Frei admitted was "a stupid play," when he chased a ball far out of the penalty area, then kicked it upfield where Gershon Koffie knocked it 40 yards back into the open goal.
Those kinds of highs and lows seem to have characterized Frei's first season with the Sounders, and we spoke to coach Sigi Schmid and goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra today about the position.
SCHMIDOn Frei major error: After the game we talked about it in the locker room as a team. And I’ve met with Stefan individually as well, and we’ve talked about it. Defensive positions are always difficult in the sense that you can play 99 percent of the game great and that one will error, all of a sudden it’s a goal and you look back. As a forward you can play 99 percent of the game badly and misses chances, and you score at that key moment at the end of the game and you’re the hero. It’s a whole different dynamic, psychologically it’s a much tougher position to be in to a certain extent. It’s a situation again after the error Stef came back and made a great save on Manneh, made a great save on Koffie. The shot right at the end of the game when he went to his right when the referee let the game go on: That was another big save. The one thing that he’s shown in the two games when he’s made an error, he’s shown the character to stay focused and come up with some big saves. So you’ve got to give him a positive mark as well.
On Frei's season overall: He’s the starting goalkeeper right now for the team that’s got the most points in the league.
On fans who see the mistakes as showing the need for a change in goal: It’s something that we’ll evaluate. There’s constantly competition at that position. Our other goalkeepers had a chance to play yesterday in the reserve game. Tommy and me are looking at that and talking about that, and we’ll see how we go forward. We’ve got two more games before the break, and we’ll see what we do in those two games.
On Sounders having allowed most 21 goals, among the most in MLS: You’re always concerned with that, and we’d like to give up less goals for sure. But we’ve also scored the most goals in the league. So we’re going to emphasis the positive side of it, that we’ve scored more goals than anybody else. And hopefully we can continue to do that and shore up what we need to shore up defensively.
DUTRAOn Frei's performance in Vancouver: "It was just a terrible mistake on his part. It was something that you learn very early that creeps in sometimes, just a lack of concentration at the wrong time. At the same time, he was able to make the saves at the end of the game. It is the life of a goalkeeper. Everybody will see his mistakes, and he's the one that's picking the ball out of the back of the net. You learn and you move on and train hard."
On calling Frei a work in progress: "The save at the end of the game was really the save. When I was talking about a work in progress, it was seeing if he could make those saves, because he wasn't necessarily making a lot of those early on. Those were the ones I always trying to see if he could make. Going back to that work in progress, that's for sure what I was talking about. Trying to get him in good positions to make good saves and get on with it."
On what a goalkeeper should do in that situation: "Kick it into our supporters. Kick it off the sideboards. ... Do anything you can except for that."
On coaching reaction to the mistake even when he knows what he did wrong: You have to address it. But at the same time you have to acknowledge when he did in the rest of the game as well. And the first thing I went up to him and I said, ‘Look, be (angry), be upset, go thank our supporters and we’ll talk about it later. But you were able to come back and make some good saves.’ I think the frustrating thing for him was he was putting together a good game, and he made that mistake. It happens. You’ve got to learn from it.
How Frei deals with adversity: He’s been able to deal with it pretty well, because he’s come back and made some saves. Today he was fantastic in training: He just got on with it. Like I said before, he’s been a sponge. All three of the guys, really they all push each other, and they’re all supportive of each other as well.
On continuing competition between Frei, Marcus Hahnemann and Josh Ford: They’re still competing every day for the spot, and still pushing. Marcus wants the position, and Josh wants the position, and all they do is go out and given the opportunity go out and give the best performance that they can give, and just be ready and be ready at the right time. And that’s all they can do, and that’ what we’ve told them: There’s no guarantees in any of this. You guys come out and you train as hard as you can, and see what happens. But take care of yourself first and play well.