Realio rating: 6.51 in 35 matches
Community rating: 6.73.1
MLS App 27, Rating 6.30; CCL 8 application, rating 7.25; MOTM 8
2022 recap: Frei was again an excellent goalkeeper in 2022, despite the team’s failure to reach the playoffs. His stats suffered greatly from what he was used to as a safer – his goals against him were half a goal higher per game. He handled 65 more shots compared to last year, but he also had a higher save percentage. The defense conceded seven penalties. Through it all Stefan was his usual self, showing no sign of age as he made big saves, ran the game well from behind, and rallied strongly to claim eight Man of the Match awards. One of those came against FC Leon in Mexico, where Frey was at his best throughout the CONCACAF Champions League, standing head to head and refusing to lose. Facing a massive 26 shots, Stefan made seven saves and didn’t concede an equalizer until the 91st minute. He followed that up by facing 25 shots, creating another Seven Sometimes acrobatic saves V.S New York City in the first leg to earn another pivotal tie and push Seattle to the final. Not to be outdone, he finished a stellar third in the CCL Final, earning a clean sheet as Seattle won a massive trophy. MLS play was a grind for Frei, as he put together a staggering CCL effort around a terrible “3” rating in a loss to San Jose as Stephan caught the ball from the net behind him four times. Two failed saves by Fry gave a 2-0 lead and 3-1 turned the first leg into a contest, and the Earthquakes were happy to take Stefan’s gift and turn it into a 4-3 win. His only other below average rating came against him Los Angeles Galaxy, where he fouled his foot while conceding an unnecessary goal against him. These Frei slips are rare, but they seem to be around every year.
To move forward: Winning eight Man of the Match awards as a goalkeeper is a lot; However, it does show how much opportunity Frei had to make noteworthy plays. This is the exact opposite of what Seattle wanted as a team, and in 2023 they will need to figure out how to rely less on Steve to carry the defense. Despite his quality, the Sounders did not earn enough clean sheets with Frei in goal, instead keeping low-scoring games and allowing offense opportunities to earn points. A stronger, possession-controlling midfield core could easily change this defense into a utterly dominant defense, capable of competing with the best in the league, as goals against Seattle this year have often been pinnable defensive lapses. Frei shows no sign of slowing down, and although he missed a few games during his career due to injury, he remains as mobile as ever, and his shot stopping and positioning look close to his best in history. With a long and busy schedule ahead of them, Seattle Frei will likely start as often as possible, but giving him periodic rest may help him and the team perform better late in the season.
Realio rating: 6.76 in 34 matches
Community rating: 6.57
MLS App 26, rating 6.46; CCL App 8, Rating 7.75; MOTM 6
2022 recap: Cristian Roldan is arguably the squad’s player of the year for 2022. Despite being hampered by a lack of international duty and injury all season, he still managed 34 appearances and the second-highest cumulative rating for the Sounders. He started off great, scoring the most of any Seattle player with a massive 7.75 rating throughout appearances in all eight CCL matches. He led the entire tournament with five assists and added a good goal. Roldan had three assists as Seattle edged FC Lyon, then New York FCFC, 6-1 in both legs at Lumens, putting the Sounders in prime position to reach the final. He confirmed that Seattle would host the final match of the tournament on equal footing after the Sounders earned a penalty kick in the ninth minute of extra time in rough conditions outside the Pumas Stadium. Roldan is an almost hard worker who has played on the right side wide for most of the season, and has been a good fit as a forward and builder. He had similar offensive stats as in previous seasons (4 goals, 5 assists, 30 key tackles); However, because he played more matches as a wide forward, this was a somewhat disappointing result. On occasion, he would display a telepathic play with both his brother Alex on the wing and his friend Jordan on the other side, bonding with both of them often throughout the season. One thing I liked about the 3-1 win over Minnesota in May: “The second half was a real buff. Starting with a straight run in the 50th minute, Cristian won a penalty that drove into the penalty area. In the 54th minute, he put a neat ball into Rodiaz that should have been a goal. After doing it himself twenty minutes later, he hit Roldan volleyed in from outside the box to give Seattle a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Instead of running into the corner late on, he found Christian Lodero unmarked for a third goal.” This was the kind of impact Christian made over most of the year, finding good angles of attack from wide areas and showing excellent vision combined with great service from the flank. Unfortunately, the team stagnated and there were times when Christian and company struggled to create anything offensively. When not given enough support by interfering full-backs or crossing options, Roldan didn’t have the dribbling ability or pace to take, instead settling for speculative crosses. When asked to move around the field, starting centrally in attack or as a defensive midfielder, Christian was above average, showing an impressive work rate and nose to the ball. Sometimes he was missing the subtlety and polish that comes when you play the same position consistently and have a better working relationship with the players around you.
To move forward: Roldan showed a clear decrease in effectiveness from the very beginning of the season, when he tore through the Champions League, until the end of the summer and into the fall, when he and the team unofficially limped and finished the season without going to the playoffs. For the first time in over a decade. Due to injuries in a number of matches, Christian has been fortunate to not waste more time with the amount of fitness his style of play encourages. Added to his MLS and CCL workload are his many international matches, which has increased his travel and number of matches played. We hope to rejuvenate him through his trip to Qatar as part of USMNT (And his latest marriage!) Christian should come in 2023 fit and motivated. A willing runner, his skill set clearly doesn’t translate to a specific position, so he’s able to move as the team needs it. Despite Roldan’s solidity and consistency on the wing, his play in defensive midfield is one of the best in the team, so it remains to be seen if he will remain a mainly attacking player or drop back and push other creative options. There are big questions about lineups, as many players can move forward or backward to meet the team’s tactical needs. Christian can play almost anywhere on the field, which brings flexibility but can limit his impact and offensive stats, but the expectation is that he will continue to lead the team’s success as he did in 2022.