Sounders’ Stefan Frei, Crew’s Steve Clark were goalkeeping options for Seattle
A unique goalkeeper matchup will be a subplot to Sounders FC’s home game Saturday against the Columbus Crew.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — Finding a goalkeeper was somewhat of a juggling act for Sounders FC in the offseason. As coach Sigi Schmid put it: “There were a number of balls in the air at the same time.”
The need stemmed from the departure of two-year starter Michael Gspurning. And while Seattle quickly set its sights on trading for Toronto’s Stefan Frei, the team also scouted and earned the rights to Steve Clark, a 27-year-old American playing in Norway.
Solid options, both.
Fast forward three weeks into the MLS season and Plan A is in effect as Frei has settled in as the Sounders’ starter. As for Clark? After a sign-and-trade from Seattle, he will suit up for Saturday’s opponent, the undefeated Columbus Crew, in a 7 p.m. game at CenturyLink Field. The matchup offers an early glimpse of what might have been.
“Steve was one of the goalkeepers that we were definitely looking at,” Schmid said. “As things turned out, Columbus had an interest and our situation resolved itself with Frei, so we were able to move forward in that direction.”
Both teams can have few complaints with their respective first-year starters, so far.
Clark, who cost Columbus a fourth-round draft pick in the trade, has allowed one goal in the team’s first 2-0 start in its 19-year history. The quality of the Crew’s play in the early going, though, hasn’t left him with much to do — opponents have managed just five shots.
Frei has been busier in recording two shutouts in Seattle’s first three games, making 10 saves en route to a 0.67 goals-against average. He was at his best in Sunday’s 2-0 road win in Montreal, as the Sounders faced a team-record 26 shots — 20 in the second half alone.
Said Schmid: “Certainly his confidence is starting to grow right now.”
Dempsey to complete suspension
Sounders FC’s Clint Dempsey will serve the second and final game of his suspension Saturday, a punishment stemming from a below-the-belt smack of Toronto’s Mark Bloom in Week 2.
Dempsey addressed the suspension for the first time this week. So what was his reaction to the MLS Disciplinary Committee’s decision?
“Disappointed,” he said. “I don’t agree with it. It is what it is and move on.”
A significant piece of the discussion centers on Dempsey also being the most fouled player in MLS since his Sounders debut. When asked if the physical treatment should be addressed at the league level, he said: “Lots of players get fouled. I think maybe giving cards earlier in games and maybe you won’t see as many fouls and you’ll see more of a rhythm to the game for spectators to watch. I think it’s important to protect every player.”
• The Sounders announced Friday they have signed Kevin Parsemain, a 26-year-old forward from the small Caribbean nation of Martinique. Parsemain has been with the team since the start of training camp and had three goals in preseason.
• Seattle’s main injury concern Saturday will be Brad Evans, who is questionable with a left-calf contusion. Schmid said after Friday’s practice that Evans’ status remains uncertain, though the midfielder said this week he is hopeful for a return before reporting to the U.S. national team.
• Crew defender Tyson Wahl, who played for the Sounders from 2009 to 2011, will be making his first return Saturday. “It’s definitely one you circle on the schedule,” Wahl told TheCrew.com. “I have fond memories of being here. ... It’s nice to be around the city, and I’m definitely excited to step out on the stadium field again.”
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184
On Twitter @joshuamayers