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Two Cal Alums Vie For MLS Cup Saturday

Dec 11, 2020
Stefan Frei (left) and Hector Jimenez (right) were Cal teammates from 2006-08.

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BERKELEY – Former Cal men's soccer teammates Stefan Frei and Hector Jimenez will reunite when their professional teams – Seattle Sounders FC and Columbus Crew SC, respectively – clash in MLS Cup on Saturday, Dec. 19, at 5:30 p.m. PT. Fox will broadcast the match live from the Crew's home field at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
Jimenez and Frei were Cal teammates from 2006-08, and now each alumnus has spent at least a decade in Major League Soccer.
A midfielder for the Golden Bears, Jimenez collected six assists in 20 games in 2006, while Frei, a goalkeeper, shut out two opponents in limited action as Cal reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament. In 2007, a redshirt year for Jimenez, Frei posted a 0.77 goals-against average and nine shutouts in his first season as the starting goalie, and Cal advanced to the second round of the postseason. The following campaign, Jimenez scored two goals and seven assists, while Frei again compiled a 0.77 GAA and nine shutouts as Cal returned to the NCAA third round. Jimenez recorded two goals and six assists in 2010, as the Bears reached the NCAA quarterfinals.
Each still figures prominently in the Cal record books. Frei ranks second in career GAA with a 0.76 mark and is tied with Cal assistant coach Henry Foulk for fourth in shutouts with 20. With 34 assists, Jimenez ranks third all-time with the Bears.
Now in his 12th season in MLS and his seventh year with Seattle, Frei, 34, has started all 22 games this year and posted six shutouts. He made three saves in the Sounders' 3-2, come-from-behind win over Minnesota United FC in the Western Conference Final. Jimenez, 32, a 10-year MLS veteran in his seventh season with the Crew, has missed action lately due to injury. He's played in eight games in 2020 after starting in 19 of 23 games played in 2019.
Each Bear is vying to win his third MLS Cup, and Frei is looking to repeat with 2019 champion Seattle, which has reached the final in four of the past five years. The goalkeeper also won the league championship in 2016 with Seattle, though Frei and the Sounders fell in the 2018 final to his former club, Toronto FC. Jimenez, a midfielder/defender for Columbus, captured the title in 2011 and 2012 with the Los Angeles Galaxy and played on the Crew's 2015 MLS Cup runner-up squad.
Josh Saunders has won the most MLS Cups of Cal's alumni, with the goalkeeper claiming the championship four times – once with the San Jose Earthquakes and three times with the Galaxy.
Cal and head coach Kevin Grimes have sent numerous Bears to the pro ranks, particularly to MLS, and seven including Jimenez and Frei have won MLS Cups. Here is the complete list:
2003     Chris Roner and Josh Saunders (San Jose Earthquakes)
2005     Troy Roberts and Josh Saunders (Los Angeles Galaxy)
2007     Eric Ebert and Nick Hatzke (Houston Dynamo)
2011     Hector Jimenez and Josh Saunders (Los Angeles Galaxy)
2012     Hector Jimenez and Josh Saunders (Los Angeles Galaxy)
2016     Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders FC)
2019     Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders FC)