The Stefan Frei era in Toronto is finally over. It did not end the way that anyone wanted it to as injuries and being stuck on the bench sidetracked the goalkeepers career in recent seasons. Frei leaves Toronto FC as the club's longest serving player and the all-time leader in appearances and joins the Seattle Sounders where he will likely compete with Marcus Hahnemann for the starting role.
The deal will provide Frei with the fresh start that he so badly deserves after falling behind Joe Bendik on the depth chart in Toronto. It will also provide TFC with some more cap space but they will also receive a conditional 1st round selection from the Sounders in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.
Seattle Sounder's perspective
The folks at Sounder at Heart are buzzing about their team's recent move to acquire Stefan Frei. They seem to think Frei is set to compete for the number one job.
With the Sounders first round pick now heading to Toronto the club already have control of 4 first round selections in the 2015 draft. They have their own selection, Seattle's, Chivas USA's (Bocanegra deal), and the Portland Timber's (Urruti trade). With that many selections in the opening round they certainly have a lot of piece to work with in potential future trades or come draft day in January of 2015.
The Sounders will still have to come to an agreement with Frei on a new contract or to pick up his remaining option year but by acquiring him via trade at this time they have the chance to negotiate with Frei exclusively. It seems quite likely that the two sides will be able to come together on a deal that will see Frei wearing that ugly rave green in 2014.
Frei's resume with Toronto FC is second to none as he managed to log 99 appearances in his 5 seasons with the club. He picked up 28 clean sheets over that time and amassed a 30-38-29 record with the club. He also backstopped the club to four consecutive Voyageurs Cups.
The official press release from TFC had this to say about Frei:
"Parting with a player of Stefan's caliber and character is always difficult, but as we move forward with our re-shaping of the Club, it is important that we have increased flexibility to make additional moves. This trade provides us with that flexibility," said Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. "Stefan is a great player and an even better person who will always hold a special place in the Club's history. We wish him all the best as he moves on to the next stage of his career."
The other side of this deal is that Toronto FC have confirmed that they have agreed a new multi-year deal with Joe Bendik. The deal probably includes a substantial pay raise for Bendik to reflect his status as the teams number 1. Hopefully the raise is to a reasonable rate for both parties and it does not result in him eventually being overpriced and dumped off.
The deal to send Frei to Seattle leaves Bendik as the club's clear number one with Chris Konopka likely being his backup in 2014 after being acquired from the Philadelphia Union during the summer. The trade is not a surprise to fans but that does not change the fact that TFC fans will still miss the club's former #1 who was always a fan favourite in Toronto.