New and upcoming goalkeeper in MLS: Matt Freese

-Matt Freese is finally getting his chance to start in MLS

-Here is a look at his journey to becoming NYCFC's goalkeeper

Matt Freese of NYCFC
Matt Freese of NYCFC / Jose L. Argueta/ISI Photos/GettyImages

New York City FC goalkeeper Matt Freese has been given the chance to play in Major League Soccer and is in line to be the permanent number-one goalkeeper for the 2024 season. He had an impressive end to the 2023 campaign that not only landed him in the favor of head coach Nick Cushing but for the fans as well. But where did this young 25-year-old come from anyway? 

Freese grew up in Pennsylvania and dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player after joining the Philadelphia Union Academy in 2016. This included playing a season with Bethlehem Steel FC, now the Philadelphia Union II.   

He was destined for something bigger after playing for the USYNT U19 side while also getting the chance to train with Manchester United. Not to mention that he was also named first-team all-county in both 2014 and 2015 for his club team that won five state titles while coming in third place at nationals.   

Before becoming a professional, Freese was an intelligent student and was accepted to Harvard University, where he played for the Crimson in the NCAA Division 1 Ivy League. He started as a freshman in 2017, appearing in three matches while allowing seven goals on seven saves with a clean sheet.   

Matt Freese's journey to NYCFC

It was not until 2018 that the current NYCFC player became a full-time goalkeeper for the Crimson. Freese played in 13 matches, allowing 20 goals while completing 70 saves with two clean sheets. 

Since he was part of the Union organization, Jim Curtin decided to sign the young 20-year-old shortly after his sophomore season, ending his short college career to play for the big leagues.   

He would be the backup of one of the best keepers in the MLS, Andre Blake. Shortly after signing, Freese spoke about being named backup to him and what he could learn from the Jamaican international. He told the Brotherly Game the following:

"Obviously, Andre’s one of the best goalkeepers in the league so I’m just going to definitely be learning under him for a while, which I’m definitely appreciative of."

Matt Freese

From 2019-2022, Freese worked under Blake. Plus, he split his time with the Philadelphia Union II to keep him playing in full matches. From 2019-2020, he logged 15 starts in the USL Championship, completing three clean sheets and allowing 33 goals in that span. In 2022, he started 16 matches in the MLS Next Pro.

Freese also made 14 starts in MLS from 2019-2021 with the senior team, including the playoffs, allowing 17 goals with one clean sheet and 34 saves. With Blake continuing his excellence in the league, there was no place in Philadelphia after not making a single MLS appearance during their 2022 season run to the MLS Cup Finals.   

Meanwhile, NYCFC needed a goalkeeper following the departure of club legend Sean Johnson to Toronto in the offseason between 2022 and 2023. As a result, Freese joined the Pigeons in January 2023.  

Despite starting as a backup, he offered brilliant competition to Luis Barraza, who saw his role demoted later in the season. His work from August to October was exceptional, keeping five clean sheets in eight matches while making 21 saves and allowing just four goals in that span. In total, he played in ten MLS matches in 2023.  

At this point, his work was too late to give NYCFC a spot in the playoffs. However, it was a positive sign that he could be the guy to replace Johnson. On October 30, NYCFC announced that it was exercising the option of Freese’s contract for the 2024 season.  

As of right now, he is set to remain the number-one goalkeeper for the club. He will soon be playing in his first full season as a starting MLS keeper, a feat he has been working on since 2016. New York City FC has become a home for him, and he finally has a chance to prove why he is a starter.