Toronto FC 2013 Top 36 Countdown: Number 26 - Stefan Frei

At least he won the header. - USA TODAY Sports

He had a very good year, except for on the pitch, as he barely ever got there. At number 26, it's Stefan Frei

Average Ranking: 25.31
Highest Ranking: 12
Lowest Ranking: 33

Duncan: 30 2013 was actually a pretty good year for Stefan Frei. He got married, bought a place in Toronto, and got two ridiculously cute dogs.

Congratulations on all counts, like I said, a very good year. On the pitch though, weeeeelllllll, not so much.

After a rough one and a half years of injury, it was all supposed to be so different. This was supposed to be the year Frei came back to the first team and showed us just why he is considered an icon at the club as Milos Kocic somewhat bitterly described him. With Kocic traded away, Frei was clearly the number one, surely the only question was if he could recover the form he showed in 2010, before being brought down by the shooting gallery mess that was the pre Frings Aron Winter team and then all the injuries, surely there wouldn't be another goalie controversy this year.

As it turns out there wasn't. In the first half of pre season, Frei came out for a long ball, racing the onrushing Ryan Finley to the ball, having to come out of the box to do so and so had to use his head. He won that race, just, but sadly his head was then in place to be kicked by Finley's boot. Exit Frei with his face in a bloody towel, enter Joe Bendik. It was revealed his nose was broken so he was out for a while and in that time Bendik grabbed the job and did really quite well. Competent and cheap (for now at least) Bendik showed he could be the goalie of the future, and so Frei sat. And sat.

He did get in the B team that was put out for the Voyageurs Cup, and picked up TFC's first clean sheet of the season in the first leg. Sadly that was followed up by that 6-0 massacre, though that's not really something Frei could be blamed for.

If going with Bendik was a good way for a team in a salary cap mess to eventually be able to get some relief by waiving Frei, surely to be announced any day now, then having him sit on the bench at a 200k cap hit really didn't make a lot of sense, and so it was he was reportedly offered to Philadelphia in a potential Danny Califf trade. But Philly didn't want his salary either, seeing it as TFC trying to solve their problem by foisting it on to Philly.

And so the season went on, though there was very little drama to be had, a credit to Frei who never publicly complained about his lot. It was obvious that Frei's time would be coming to an end though and there came a call from some fans for Frei to be played in the last home game to give fans a chance to give him a proper send off. Of course that didn't happen, but Joe Bendik managed to get himself sent off and so in the penultimate game, in Chicago, he did get the start.  He only let one goal in, though that was with help from post and bar, but he did at least produce one last magnificent save to remind us all of what he can do.

That was his last game, Nelsen not letting sentiment get the benefit of him for the season finale, and all that was left was the season ending media day, where Frei classified the year as a learning experience, full of ups and downs.

It's a sad end for the longest serving member of the club, one he doesn't deserve but probably makes sense in a salary cap world. It will be interesting to see where his career goes from here, especially if he ends up elsewhere in MLS. In that end of year interview one of the questions asked if he thought football was an unfair game. In a way it is, but in a way it's an ultimate meritocracy, Joe Bendik + the salary cap savings that can now be spent elsewhere provided better value to TFC that Frei did and so he will move on. Hopefully he can find a club that needs him and will play him, that can pay him what he deserves and have it fit appropriately in their cap. He deserves that. Who knows, maybe he'll eventually see getting away from TFC  as one other good thing that happened in 2013.

Dave: 29. One last appearance was enough to help him jump up my rankings to a respectable 29th which still feels so wrong for one of the club's longest suffering (I mean serving) players. If only they had given him that 100th cap that he completely deserved based on what he has given this club over his time here. If we have seen the last of him it is a shame that he could not go out on a better note.

Armen: 29. What to say about Stefan Frei. He gets a low ranking due to lack of playing time. Classy guy - still owes me a game of FIFA 14 though!

James: 29. Should be so much higher on this list for all he has gone through at the club, but rarely featured - will fondly be remembered if his days are indeed numbered.

Kristin: 30. Yes I know it's a low rating - please note I've nothing but respect for the guy but he played in two games. Or was it three? Anyway - fate, flukey injuries, the curse upon BMO - whatever it is, unfortunately Frei's last season with TFC (because it is) was not what most of the fans would have wished for and honestly it saddens me to see his time in red end this way. However, that's sports right? So farewell to a classy guy who never did anything but show up, work hard and support his teammates. Thanks Stefan.

a_miller16: His talent would put him higher on the list but Nelsen's refusal to play him made him not much more than a cap problem

Angus Chung: It is really unfortunate that he only got to have 99 total appearances for the club. He was a real trooper throughout the years and did the best he could given our shambolic defense. I think we all wish him the best of luck wherever he goes, whether it is back to Switzerland or to another MLS club

Bruce Harding. Mr. 99. Barely played, shame he won't ever again for us.

Elusivecart: Never knew the guy, i saw him live and he lost 6-0...

Henry for PM: Handled himself professionally under hard circumstance, I would have played him more and traded him

Ignirtoq: #ThankYou

Jon Spratt: Like Danny Koevermans, an upsetting ending for a fan favourite's time in Toronto.

Killinghurst: An all around good guy. He will be remembered more for 2009-2012 than for 2013.

Michaelvee: One game. All he got was one game. And while the #Freifor100 bit was touching, he needs to go. He's a good keeper with a few tools to make him a great starter in MLS - namely his reactions, shot-stopping, and distribution. I see him getting grabbed in the Re-Entry draft.

Prizby: Ahh another sentimental pick (22); pure love for the guy, but clearly needed games and got saved by the woodwork a few times in his outing in Chicago; he will be sorely missed here in Toronto though.

Red Wine Roz: Played well in his one game. Gonna miss him. A lot.

Robert Snider: Let my people go. He's still a good GK and should get more work somewhere. It's what he needs. He wasted a year on the bench here and he's not getting younger.

The Yorkies: Danke Herr Frei. Should have ended differently.

Tyler: A large part of me wishes that TFC will keep frei and sell off Bendik for a profit…

Yohan: I'd love to rate Frei higher(29), but he played 3 games this season, one of them was 6-0 disgrace vs Montreal in Voyageurs Cup. Hopefully he'll be able to rebuild his career, maybe even in MLS as he is eligible for Re-Entry Draft.

Number 25: Hogan Ephraim

Number 27: John Bostock

Full Top 36 Countdown

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