A year ago, Stefan Frei made an iconic save that helped clinch an MLS Cup victory for the Sounders. This year, he hopes the team won’t need such miracles, saying circumstances surrounding the club and its explosive, balanced attack are now quite different.
Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei doesn’t plan to watch the dozens of replays of “The Save’’ that will inevitably make their way on to Canadian television this week.
Frei’s iconic save off a Jozy Altidore header late in last year’s MLS Cup championship game helped secure a title for the Sounders over hometown Toronto FC. It also broke the hearts of a Toronto fanbase Frei had spent his first several seasons playing in front of before a 2014 trade.
The Sounders head back to Toronto on Wednesday afternoon and Frei plans to make himself scarce as the week progresses. He also hopes the game’s decisive moment doesn’t come down to him having to make another miraculous stop.
“I’m going to try and do the same thing as last year and at some point really zone out with you (media) guys and social media and just focus on the game,’’ Frei said Monday. “Hopefully, I don’t have to make another save. I would really appreciate it if one of our strikers could come through.’’
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Chances are, the Sounders won’t go an entire match without a shot on goal this time. The team is far more healthy and high-powered on attack than the defensive-minded gang that gutted its way to a title a year ago on penalty kicks.
“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.’’
The biggest factor is the Sounders won’t catch anybody asleep this year. They haven’t come out of nowhere to make the final, but rather, just blew out the Houston Dynamo in the conference championship round. Toronto FC has waited an entire year to avenge the title loss on its home field and now has that exact chance.
“They’re going to be hungry to try to make amends for what happened last year,’’ Frei said. “By the same token, they also have to be aware that another defeat at home would be a disaster. I think there are multiple factors that play in to it. For us, we’re just very, very happy with the work we’ve put in and having a chance to now…