It took all of 18 hours for the Seattle Sounders to replace Michael Gspurning. Less than a day after declining the option on the goalkeeper's contract, the Sounders traded for the embattled Stefan Frei. Seattle will send a conditional first round pick to Toronto FC for the Swiss.
Frei was selected in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft and was Toronto's starter for three years. He was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise putrid organization, but injuries derailed what was a strong start to his career. The injuries ranged from minor to a broken fibula and torn ligaments in his ankle. He returned to full fitness last season, but by then, the club had moved on and installed Joe Bendik as starting goalkeeper.
Gspurning was excellent for Seattle in his first year with the club, but he had a rocky 2013. Injuries played a role in his struggles, but he also never found his form from the year before, which led to the Sounders looking for a replacement this offseason.
If Frei can stay healthy, he gives the Sounders an excellent goalkeeper who, at 27 years old, can be a mainstay in the net for years. Despite playing on an awful Toronto team, he still managed to shine and emerged as one of the league's best shotstoppers. It's rare for a goalkeeper to be drafted in the first round, but Frei was a consensus first round pick and lived up to the considerable billing when he was fit enough to play. His injuries are certainly a concern, but with Marcus Hahnemann committed to returning next season, Seattle has capable backup that makes betting on Frei's health less risky.
The Sounders need to make some serious changes after last year's late season collapse that put Sigi Schmid's job in jeopardy, while Frei needs a fresh start to jumpstart his once-promising career. If struggles make for happy bedfellows, this is a match made in heaven.