Tag Archives: Stefan Frei

The Rubber Match Preview: Seattle Hosts Toronto for Tie-Break MLS Cup

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

December 10th, 2016. I sat on my couch in a Seattle suburb balancing a bowl of popcorn on my belly. It was my due date for my first baby boy, Sawyer, and I was beyond ready to meet him. Due dates are hardly ever accurate though, especially with first pregnancies.

Nevertheless, I sat there that day especially hopeful to be in labor soon, but not for at least another 10 or 15 minutes. The Seattle Sounders had just played 120 long, grueling minutes in their first MLS Cup appearance in club history and were now heading to a penalty shoot out. My blood pressure was through the roof.

But the rest is MLS history. Seattle would win the shootout 5-4 and Sawyer wouldn’t be born for six more days. We welcomed him into a world were the Seattle Sounders were reigning MLS Cup Champions. To this day, I’m still not sure which was the greater joy for my husband.

Photo Credit: Ashley Savage

MLS Cup 2017 was not as kind to the Sounders, as Toronto swiftly defeated them. The postseason of 2018 was not much better, as the Sounders were eliminated by their biggest rivals, the Portland Timbers, who went on to lose the MLS Cup final to Atlanta United.

In the span of those two seasons, my son attended nearly every home Sounders match. He smiled brightly every time the Sounders scored a goal and fire shot from the goalposts. At two, he held his hand over his heart for every national anthem and would mumble sounds that somewhat emulated the lyrics. These games brought him so much joy, just as he brought joy to our family.

The 2019 season for the Seattle Sounders was one that I would not describe as joyful. There were so many injuries. Brad Smith, Kelvin Leerdam, Victor Rodriguez, Raul Ruidiaz, Gustav Svensson, Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro, Roman Torres, Kim Ki Hee, Will Bruin and Joevin Jones all spent significant time out injured. Chad Marshall was forced in to retirement prior to mid-season. The team dropped more points at home than any of their previous ten seasons.

Photo Credit: Seattle Sounders FC

But there were also many moments of magic. Jordan Morris put together his best season in MLS and was rewarded with the MLS Comeback Player of the Year award. Stefan Frei was an absolute force in the net game after game. And when it mattered most, the team grabbed enough points to finish second in the Western Conference and haven’t looked back since.

Photo Credit: Seattle Sounders FC

Raul Ruidiaz has scored three goals and three assists in his playoff appearances this season. Nicolas Lodeiro has two goals and four assists in three post season appearances.

While the Sounders were not dominant in their opening playoff victory against FC Dallas, the team posted a shutout in the next round against Real Salt Lake. Then, they did the unthinkable by traveling to Banc of California Stadium and put on a clinic to near perfection on how to beat the greatest regular season team in MLS history, LAFC.

Now, thanks to a lightening bolt strike from Nick DeLeon that defeated Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Final, Toronto FC are heading to Seattle for the MLS Cup Rubber Match. For impartial fans, this story-line is probably getting old. But for me and my family and the city of Seattle, this is the most anticipated day we could possibly imagine.

The city of Seattle hasn’t hosted many championships. During the 1978 and 1979 seasons the Seattle Supersonics hosted several finals games and the Seattle Storm have hosted in the 2004, 2010, and 2018 seasons when they won their respective titles.

For a metropolitan area of nearly 3.89 million people, hosting this championship means everything. Possibly to no one more than head coach Brian Schmetzer, who was born in Seattle, played for the Sounders USL side and has taken the team to three MLS Cups in his four seasons as head coach. For this city, for this team, and for this writer, this game means everything.

The game will kickoff at 12:08 PM PST on Sunday November 10th at CenturyLink Field and will broadcast on ABC. Tickets for the match sold out in minutes and it’s estimated that nearly 71,000 fans will be in attendance.

One of those fans will be my son, Sawyer, who is now almost three years old and insists on wearing his Nightfall Jordan Morris jersey to every single match. While he was a few days late to witness the Sounders first MLS Cup, here’s hoping he gets to see the Rave Green hoist the trophy in person this Sunday.

Featured image: Seattle Sounders FC

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All That Glitters is Not (Black and) Gold

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

The Seattle Sounders are on their way to their 3rd MLS Cup appearance in four seasons after beating LAFC in the Western Conference Final by a score of 3-1. Yes. That scoreline is real.

Vegas gave the odds at 6:1. The pundits and media members called Seattle ‘underdogs.’ Bobby Warshaw of MLS.com wrote in his pregame column that, ” Seattle can win this game. But first, they need to be scared. Being scared is the right reaction here.” But the Sounders weren’t scared. They came into Banc of California Stadium last night prepared, focused, and stacked with experience.

In the 17th minute of the game, Eduard Atuesta struck one of the most fantastic free-kicks of the season, curling the ball around the right side of the wall and past Stefan Frei for the game’s opening goal.

After LAFC took the lead, the Sounders never dropped their heads or slowed their tempo. The play was focused and direct from the Rave Green before the goal and nothing tactically or emotionally changed afterward. Just 5 minutes later, Raul Ruidiaz leveled the game with a hard-fought finish from just inside the box.

A mere 4 minutes after Ruidiaz got on the score board, Nicolas Lodeiro gave the Sounders a 2-1 lead. The back-line of LAFC gave Nico plenty of space to tee up the shot that snuck past Tyler Miller. The Sounders would go to halftime with a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Final.

The second half played much like the first. The Sounders allowed LAFC to maintain possession (LAFC would end the game with 69% possession) and were happy to attack on the counter and clog the middle, something Bob Bradley acknowledge in a frustrated manner in his post-game interview.

It was as clear in the second 45 as it was in the first that the Sounders were not playing scared. They were sticking to their well researched and practiced game plan, and honestly, they were having fun. So much so that Lodeiro tried this 12 minutes in to the second half:

In the 64th minute, Ruidiaz broke through with his second goal of the night, sneaking one in near the post and giving the Sounders a 3-1 lead.

While the center-backs, Xavier Arreaga and Kim Ki-Hee, gave Sounders fans everywhere a scare with two incidental contacts in the box, the game ended 3-1 in favor of the Seattle Sounders.

Photo Credit: Seattle Sounders FC

The Sounders await the winner of the Eastern Conference Final. The match between Toronto FC and Atlanta United will air on FS1 at 5 PM PST on Wednesday, October 30th. If the Canadian side should win, Seattle will host the MLS Cup for the first time in club history. If Atlanta wins, they will host their second consecutive MLS Cup at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Post-Match Take-Aways

LAFC Still Had The Best Regular Season Of All Time

Let’s get one thing straight, the loss last night by LAFC does not take ANYTHING away from the season they had. They are, in my opinion, the greatest regular season team in MLS history. The stats showed that, the style of play showed that, and the individual performances showed that.

Carlos Vela was the most dominant MVP in recent years. If there was a “Most Improved” award, it would be given to Eduard Atuesta and the incredible season he had, pulling strings in the middle of the pitch. LAFC had 3 players voted to the MLS Best XI and probably 2-3 that could have been honorable mentions.

But since the MLS Playoffs were expanded in 2011, only TWO #1 seeds have made MLS Cup, while a #2 seed has made it NINE times. Heavy is the crown of those who win the Supporter’s Shield and while LAFC played an incredibly dominant season on the whole, the Sounders were better than them on the night. And that’s the beauty and chaos of MLS playoffs.

Throwing Beers On Opposing Teams (or anyone) Is Garbage

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Kelvin Kuo

In case the photo isn’t clear and obvious (which neither of those PK claims by LAFC were), this is a photo of Nouhou Tolo kicking away a beer can that was being thrown at him by bitter, lingering LAFC fans. This photo was taken 10 minutes AFTER the final whistle when the Sounders were approaching their away fans to celebrate. This was one of dozens of beers tossed by fans aiming at Sounders players and it cannot be said enough how disgraceful this act is.

Throwing beers, but not cups or cans, to celebrate a goal is one thing. It’s part of the culture and environment of the 3252 and that’s fine. But after play was stopped in the 2018 playoffs because Nick Rimando was being pelted with beer cans during the game, you’d think fans would have learned their lessons. But this happened during the game last night and after the whistle. I’ve been to a game at Banc of California, and those beers are NOT cheap, so at the very least, this seems incredibly wasteful and not financially smart.

But in all seriousness, LAFC fans and team affiliates should take a closer look at these actions. It’s not acceptable, appropriate or a good look for the league as a whole. Please use the beer to soothe your emotions, not physically express them.

Featured image: Seattle Sounders FC

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Sounders hold off Dynamo with 1-0 victory and roster rumbles


Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

Take a bow, Cristian! The Seattle Sounders rode the wave of Roldan’s 5th minute golazo all the way to the 90th minute to a 1-0 win over the Houston Dyanmo.

The Sounders were strong defensively as Houston had Sounders fans holding their breath and sighing with relief several times in both halves. Chad Marshall was left out of the team 18 for the second consecutive game, but Roman Torres gave a solid performance.

As always, Stefen Frei came up big in goal and kept the all-important shutout, helping the Sounders claim 3 more points and gain traction in the Western Conference standings.

Both sides had offensive chances throughout the game, although the score remained unchanged after Roldan’s 5th minute rocket. The only other notable event was Victor Rodriguez being substituted in the 15th minute with a hamstring injury. Rodriguez just recently returned from concussion protocol, so picking up a new injury is not something Sounders fans were happy to see.

After 11 games played, Seattle sit in third place in the Western Conference tied on points with the second place Galaxy and 5 points behind first place LAFC. However, the Sounders go in to the upcoming week with a game-in-hand that they will play at home on Wednesday against Orlando City.

The upcoming week is important for the Sounders to claim points. Taking at least 4 points from both games would move the Sounders to second place. With the Galaxy hitting a run of bad form lately behind injuries to Romain Alessandrini and Jonathan Dos Santos, the upcoming week is a vital time to pass them in the Western Conference Standings.

League leaders LAFC are on a hot streak that doesn’t seem to be burning out and with rumors that Carlos Vela might not be called up for international summer duty, the Sounders need to grab points while they can to catch the Black-and-Gold.

Injuries are still plaguing the Sounders starting XI that played so dominantly at the start of the season. Gustav Svensson is out for an undisclosed amount of time, Victor Rodriguez has picked up his third injury of the season, and Chad Marshall missed his second game in a row with a knee injury. On the positive, Raul Ruidiaz returned from a month long injury and Will Bruin substituted in for Ruidiaz, marking his return after several weeks injured as well.

Reinforcements in former Sounders wingback, Joevin Jones, and Ecuadorian centerback, Xavier Arreaga, will arrive some time in the next few weeks. Sounders fans were notably surprised to see Arreaga receive a DP tag, especially as the team currently has 4 centerbacks on their roster (Torres, Marshall, Kim and Campbell).

How and when Arreaga will be utilized is unclear, but some fans have speculated on Chad’s retirement coming earlier than the end of the season. Spending the money on a DP caliber defender seems ridiculous if he isn’t in Seattle’s immediate plans, but no clear statement has been made from the front office.

Jones played predominantly as a left-back for the Sounders and occasionally as a left wing, but played almost exclusively the latter during his time in Germany. It’s likely the Sounders will use him as a variation for Rodriguez or if Brad Smith‘s loan from Bournemouth can’t be extended this summer as the Sounders have vocally said they would like to see happen.

Featured image: @SoundersFC

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SLIP-N-SLIDE IN NYCFC

Kaitlyn O'Rourke - Seattle Sounders/mlsfemale
Seattle Sounders Key Contributor

By Kaitlyn O’Rourke 

Saturday, June 17: 2-1 Loss

The Seattle Sounders lost 2 goals to 1 against New York City FC on Saturday in a wet and slippery Yankee Stadium. Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris (USMNT) Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago), Oniel Fisher (Jamaica), and Roman Torres (Panama) are all back from their national teams. The Sounders lined up in their typical 4-2-3-1, playing all their returning internationals but Roman Torres.

Stefan Frei

Oniel Fisher, Gustav Svensson, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones

Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan

Harry Shipp, Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey

Jordan Morris

The game kicked off just as fans in Seattle were waking up, fans in New York were being poured on. The teams settled in, with the occasional chance resulting in someone looking like they were on a slip-n-slide (seriously, check out the photos and GIFS from the game. They’re hilarious). Both teams had trouble with the standing water on the field, the ball would stop and players had trouble kicking it. Neither team had a dangerous chance until the Sounders struck first with a goal from Cristian Roldan in the 40th minute.

The New York defense turned the ball over near CR7, who passed it to Harry Shipp, who then passed back to Roldan. The ball deflected off a defender then off Clint Dempsey and found its way to Roldan’s feet. Roldan kept running with the ball, and opted not to pass to Dempsey and scored the opening goal (seriously why is this guy not on the national team??).

In the second half, the ref awarded a penalty for Oniel Fisher “pushing” David Villa in the back. While I don’t think he dove, I don’t think he was pushed, my thought is that he slipped with all the water (but hey, I’ll always have a soft spot for Villa as a Barca fan ;)). Anyways, Villa equalized so congratulations on your 50th goal for NYCFC David*.

The Sounders subbed in Will Bruin for Harry Shipp, moving Morris back to play Shipp’s role and Bruin to be the lone striker. The Sounders had several dangerous chances following the sub, but didn’t capitalize on any.

In the 77th minute, David Villa scored again* for NYCFC on a cross from Jack Harrison. This sunk the Sounders ship for good, Seattle never found an equalizer.

*seriously Villa, you couldn’t have waited until you play Portland?!?!?! ok i’m over it

Takeaways and notes

  • Cristian Roldan deserves to be on the USMNT*.
  • Stefan Frei got his US Citizenship on Tuesday so — 1. Congratulations!! And 2. He’s now eligible to play for the USMNT
  • The game should’ve been stopped at half time, it was said during the broadcast that if the ball stopped moving due to rain/standing water that the game would be stopped. The ball did stop moving several times.
  • Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris need to work better on the field. They should go fishing or dancing or something. **
  • The Sounders play again Wednesday against Orlando (which happens to also be their pride celebration)
  • I don’t know if this is just me, but can we do something about these game times?
  • The game Saturday started at 1pm ET, which meant many Sounders fans had to wake up earlyish for a game.
  • The game against Orlando starts at 7:30pm PT, which means many Orlando fans have to stay up late on a weeknight.  

*seriously Cristian Roldan should be on the national team. He and Jordan Morris could use their BFF powers for good. They could be like Captain America and Wonder…Man? And maybe it’s just me, but I would LOVE to see a USMNT that had DeAndre Yedlin, Cristian Roldan, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, and Christian Pulisic all playing together.

**Maybe the Sounders need to start dancing after games again. It worked last year.

Featured image courtesy: soundersfc.com

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Not A Fan Of Day Matches

Jennifer Denton - Seattle Sounders/mlsfemale
Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Jennifer Denton // @darkwynds

Saturday, May 6: 0-1 Loss

This is the rematch most, if not all, Seattle Sounders fans have been waiting for.  So much was made of the MLS Cup ending in PKs versus Toronto FC, and no shots on goal for the Sounders. 

True to the hype, this was indeed a “revenge match.” Jair Marrufo was in the center circle. I try not to blame bad matches on the refs because it isn’t only one reason a match goes badly.  Sounders’ match started out well enough but went downhill fast.  

Let’s go to the video tape: In the sixth minute Sounders got a free kick in a great spot.  Roldan took the free kick and it’s a goal! Or is it? Nope, called for offside, no goal. While, I was on the far end of the stadium from the goal, it didn’t look offside at all, but having the luxury of a replay, the assistant ref got the call right. *insert grumble about not liking offside*

So the match moves on and something just seems off with the Sounders.  After the amazing comeback against the New England Revolution the week before, the team seems tired. Another observation is that Toronto FC, while not playing dirty soccer, it’s certainly thuggish. To compound the frustration, they are getting calls from Marrufo for their behavior. The offside call was just a heart crushing moment. It was like the air was sucked out of the fans, which leads us to the 22nd minute. 

In the 22nd minute, a penalty is called against the Sounders.  Roman Torres fell onto Jozy Altidore.  When it happened live, it looked soft.  Now that I have had a chance to see the replay a few times, it was a soft call.  It looks like Torres tripped and fell into Altidore.  That is my opinion of course, the ref must make a quick call at the time and I can see where you would think it was a penalty.  I will be happy when the Video Ref system comes online (if it does). 

Well, from that point on it just got worse and worse for the Sounders.  If I hadn’t known better I would have said the Sounders were the team that played a midweek match.  The penalty just took the wind out of their match and they were just going through the motions.  If you looked at the stats from the match, you would think the Sounders won the match.  We were better than TFC in almost every category, except the one that really matters, the final score. 

There were some bright spots, though.  Stefan Frei was amazing again; he had a save that was almost exactly like “The Save”.  There were moments where you could almost feel like they were going to come back, but then they give up the ball and the moment was lost.  This loss will be put behind us and we move onto an away match at Chicago, Saturday evening.  Chicago has had a remarkable turnaround so this could be a good match.  I am looking forward to it.

See you in the terraces.

Featured image Week 10 MLS Save of the Week courtesy: @SoundersFC

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Houston Dynamo vs Seattle Sounders Game Recap

Seattle Sounders Key Contributor

By Kaitlyn O’Rourke

“The Seattle Sounders had less than a 3 month offseason”, is the apparent and obvious excuse for the team’s loss Saturday against the Houston Dynamo. The Sounders opened in Houston on Saturday evening. It didn’t go as hoped for the reigning MLS Champions- the team lost 2-1. By the end of the first half it was 2-0 in the Dynamo’s favor. Things weren’t looking good for the Sounders.

The Sounders lined up in a 4-2-3-1 with MLS Cup hero Stefan Frei as goalie, Gustav Svensson as right back and Joevin Jones as left back. The big guys, Roman Torres and Chad Marshall played at center backs.

Ozzie Alonso wore the captain’s armband and started as center mid along with Cristian Roldan. Over the course of the 2016 season, the two developed a dynamic partnership that will hopefully continue, and get stronger, over the course of the 2017 season.

 Alvaro Fernandez and Nico Lodeiro started as right and left mids, respectively, and Clint Dempsey returned to MLS play after being sidelined with an irregular heartbeat last August. He played at attacking mid. Jordan Morris, 2016 rookie of the year, started as forward, like he did much of last season.

Frei had several good saves early but Houston took the lead on a free kick by Erick Torres just outside the box. Torres got the ball up and over the wall and sent it into the back of the net. 1-0. The Dynamo scored their second goal on a beautiful bending shot by Romell Quioto.

The Sounders got one back in the second half on a goal by the one and only Clint Dempsey in the 58th minute. The goal came from Joevin Jones sending in a cross, Jordan Morris tried to hit it in, missed, and caused the ball to come loose in the box. Dempsey reacted quickly and sent the ball into the net.

Houston applied lots of pressure in the first half then their intensity dropped off in the second half.  The Sounders kept control of the ball better in the second half and looked more like their Championship winning team. Jones had several good and dangerous crosses and Morris had a great run in the 77th minute.

Brian Schmetzer said that it was a “good learning tool” for the Sounders. The locker room was quiet; Morris remarked in his post-game interview that no one likes to lose. The Sounders will play again Saturday in Montreal. 5 of their first 7 games are on the road.

Featured image of Clint Dempsey courtesy: @SoundersFC

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