Seattle Sounders strike potential gold in trade for Stefan Frei

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There was a time when Stefan Frei stood out among the best of Major League Soccer goalkeepers. But injuries struck, and then Toronto was blessed with a couple of goalkeepers who stood the test during their young Swiss goalkeeper’s lengthy absence.

So Frei was the odd man out, even though he had been such an influential figure previously at BMO Field, where he was a rookie starter in 2009.

That’s why it looks like Seattle has gotten such a good thing with today’s trade for Frei. (Yes, the off-season horse swapping is already at full trot in MLS, never mind that the champagne is barely dry in the MLS Cup final winner’s locker room.) Getting a front line goalkeeper on the cheap? Yes … that’s a solid hit.

Michael Gspurning had been a dependable figure around CenturyLink Field, but his erratic play toward the end of 2013 put Seattle on the alert for something better. Frei could easily be the “something better.”

The Sounders had already declined Gspurning’s contract option; he cost the team $285,000 last year in guaranteed compensation. Frei is set to make about $200,000 this year.

At 27 years old, Frei is not far from that sweet spot in a goalkeeper’s career, the “old enough to know, still young enough to do” stage. Plus, all this inability to get games at Toronto last year, even after he was past the injuries that threatened to derail it all, is likely to create a seriously motivated man.

A conditional first round draft pick in 2015 would be a swell price to pay if Frei redevelops that splendid form of before. And if not, the Sounders didn’t lose much in the interim.

It’s a good rebuilding block around CenturyLink.