2. Stefan Frei
There has been a lot of the talk recently regarding concerns about the Seattle Sounders’ defense. The lack of depth and quality; too many changes in personnel; growing doubts over the readiness of the unit for the season ahead. However, they are still in a better position than the majority of MLS clubs for one simple reason: they have Stefan Frei.
When you consider everything Frei has achieved in Seattle, he is without doubt one of the very best goalkeepers in all of MLS. Even when the defense or team in general is struggling, he has repeatedly been there to bail them out, with the 2016 MLS Cup providing arguably the number one example of this.
Most fans remember the 33-year-old’s save against Jozy Altidore in the second half of extra time. This has quite rightly been hailed as one of the very best in league history. The win against Toronto FC proved to be a significant boost to the player, galvanizing his confidence and performance. The following year Frei led all MLS goalkeepers with a career-high 13 clean sheets.
And the 2009 first-round draft pick has continued to perform at an elite level, culminating with helping the Sounders win their second MLS Cup last season. How he has only been selected as an MLS All-Star once is highly questionable.
In truth, recent moves have solidified the Rave Green’s backline and it looks set to provide a strong barricade for the club as they aim for more MLS Cup glory, as well as attempting to win the Champions League. However, even if the defense takes time to gel or isn’t as good as projected, they will be just fine as long as Frei continues to play at his usual high level.