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Stefan Frei takes blame for Sounders’ ‘cruel’ loss at LAFC

It was a save Stefan Frei would normally make in his sleep. Laurent Ciman hit a solid, but not exactly well-placed, free kick from 30 yards or so from the goal. It hit him just to the right of his chest, but he couldn’t coral it and it caromed into the back of the net. Just like that, a hard fought 0-0 draw turned into a 1-0 defeat that can only be described one way.

“It’s a cruel end to the game for the team I think,” Frei said after the game. “We put in a good shift and we deserved to get something out of this game.”

It was a game that seemed destined for a draw for about 93 minutes. Both teams passed quite well. Possession was about 50-50 when all was said and done. Shots were pretty close. Both goalkeepers made strong saves. But, the only moment to make a difference was the free kick at the end of that match.

Frei was quick to take the blame for giving up a goal he knows he should have kept out with little trouble at all.

“It hurts even more that we can’t get the shutout and get the point,” he said. “And that is on me. That’s the cruel part of this position and it’s not the first time and unless I retire tomorrow it won’t be the last time.

“It’s brutal. Not because you gave up the goal but because you let down your whole team. They put on a good shift. They worked their butts off and you make a mistake and it’s deadly.”

The Sounders did well to shut down a Los Angeles FC attack that had turned some heads in their first half-dozen matches. They kept Carlos Vela held down throughout the match. He only had one shot. Early favorite for newcomer of the year Diego Rossi was more or less non-existent up front as well. Only Marco Urena stepped up to have a strong attacking game, and he can’t do everything by himself.

“With their creativity and pace and all that they have in the front four, I think we did exceptionally well to set ourselves up for a result,” Frei said, praising the work of the defending in front of him. “And that’s what makes it even more difficult that I gave up that late goal.”

The lack of outstanding attacking play led the entire match to be pinned on a free kick in the dying moments of the game. Frei was mentally prepared for what Laurent Ciman could do. He played the ball well, but simply couldn’t make the final save.

“Ciman hits a good ball. It’s not that I cheated to the left or anything,” he said. “We’ve scouted, we know what he’s capable of. We’ve seen that he can score goals and he hits a good knuckler. Once I committed to it I tried to move forward and into the ball and meet it. It kind of moved to the right and out of my basket and hits me on the right side and goes in.”

That’s really all there was to say about the goal. Sometimes soccer is a cruel game, and there’s little use in breaking down why a ball flies through the air the way it does or how a goal ends up in the back of the net at the worst possible time.

“Sometimes you look back and wonder how it happens, but it happens,” Frei concluded.

Head coach Brian Schmetzer wasn’t as hard on his goalkeeper after the game. He gives credit to the LAFC set piece, specifically Urena for creating a distraction.

“Well, Urena impeded Stef’s view. So as he runs across he ducks like this, goes right over the back and Stef didn’t get a clean look at it,” Schmetzer said. “Normally that’s a save Stef is going to make all day long.”

Despite the difficult circumstances behind the loss, Schmetzer still has faith in his top class goalkeeper. He knows that Frei has bailed them out before and will bail them out again in the future.

“He’s saved us more times than not.”


  1. The shot was right at him. Even if it is knuckling, at the very least he could have parried it away. A horrible blunder and I thought the Sounders had the better of the game, creating more chances.


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