Goalkeeper Stefan Frei has been a stalwart for the Seattle Sounders.

In his seven seasons with Seattle, Frei has missed just five Major League Soccer matches, helping the Sounders to four MLS Cup appearances. But Sunday night he will not be in net when the Western Conference-leading Sounders (4-0-1, 13 points) host Los Angeles FC (1-1-2, five points).

Frei is expected to miss a month after suffering a sprained left knee in the 90th minute of Wednesday's 1-0 victory at San Jose.

"We have been so used to Stef coming up with big saves in critical moments, and he's done such a good job for the club," Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. "Sometimes you almost take it for granted that he's here and has been durable."

Frei leads the league with three shutouts this season and has allowed just two goals in five games.

His replacement will be either last year's backup Stefan Cleveland or Spencer Richey, a Seattle native and former University of Washington standout who signed with the club after starting 28 games for FC Cincinnati the past two seasons. Cleveland's only MLS starts came in 2018 when he started five games for the Chicago Fire.

"Stefan Frei is going to be hard to replace, but having two backups who compete at the level that they do is something that's extremely important for our team," said Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan, who scored the lone goal at San Jose.

The only game the Sounders haven't won this season was a 1-1 draw at LAFC on April 24.

Los Angeles might see Carlos Vela back on the field for the first time since the season opener. Vela, the 2019 MVP when he set a league record with 34 goals, has been out with a quadriceps injury and is expected to be available off the bench.

"He's a very, very important player for us," said LAFC midfielder Eduard Atuesta, who scored on a free kick in the second minute in the earlier draw with Seattle. "As our leader, obviously we miss him a lot -- especially at the start of the season (when) we're trying to find a rhythm. We hope that he's back to 100 percent soon. But in the meantime, we have to look for results."

Since opening the season with a 2-0 victory over expansion team Austin FC, LAFC has been held to one goal in each of their last three games, managing just two of nine possible points. They lost to the LA Galaxy, 2-1, last week after drawing with Seattle and Houston.

--Field Level Media

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