For Seattle’s home match against Chicago on Sept. 28 and through collaboration with Delta Air Lines and fans, Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei is designing a 200-foot tall, 75-foot wide display that will be unveiled at CenturyLink Field.

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Stefan Frei was too timid to wield spray paint himself, too much of a rule follower to so brazenly flout the law. But throughout his youth in Altstatten, Switzerland, the Sounders’ goalkeeper and artist drew inspiration from graffiti artists, slightly envious of their boldness.

If only young Stefan could see himself now.

For Seattle’s home match against Chicago on Sept. 28 and through collaboration with Delta Air Lines and fans, Frei is designing a 200-foot tall, 75-foot wide display that will be unveiled at CenturyLink Field’s north end.

“He’d probably be pretty immature, boasting to his colleagues,” Frei said of his younger self. “I had some friends who were doing some smaller graffiti stuff. Even if it was a tiny little thing, it was, ‘Oh, that’s so cool. That took some (guts).’ Now I can say, ‘You got that little thing. Look at my 200-foot thing.’ I would have never guessed that this would be in my path.”

Graffiti, the 30-year-old Frei says, is used primarily as a way to get your name out. Mark your territory and gain respect.

Graffiti, like all art, is also a medium through which artists send a message.

And the one Frei hoped to convey already has been overshadowed by a publicity rollout even the club admits was botched.

An abbreviated summary: The original Sounders/Delta news release described the project as a “tifo”; the Emerald City Supporters group vehemently objected to what it saw as corporate takeover of a project and word that traditionally is an expression of fan culture. Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer apologized for the misstep at a fan town-hall meeting, and the word “tifo” has been replaced by “artwork” on all subsequent references.

Frei, for his part, said he was unaware of how the project was going to be presented and smiled at the fans’ passion. He originally viewed the opportunity simply as a way to express his devotion to the club and city.

Though he has lived in Seattle for less than three years since being acquired in a trade with Toronto, Frei said he plans to settle down here after his soccer career is over.

He admires the region’s spirit of collaboration, a spirit of community that has remained even as the area’s population booms.

“I think that’s why there’s a lot of startups here,” Frei said. “People try to help each other out. They want to have their neighbors succeed. That positivity is a terrific environment for everybody. We try to replicate that in our locker room.

“That’s why I want to set down roots here, not just because I’m with the Sounders. As a person, when I’m done with soccer, whether I’m with the Sounders in the front office or whatever or in another job, it’s the perfect environment. I’m happy here.”

Frei credits Hanauer, too, with opening doors. The goalkeeper has sat in on meetings for Seattle technology website Geekwire and was invited to mingle with some of Seattle’s most prominent art collectors at Hanauer’s behest.

“If he approaches you to ask whether you’d like to join him here or there, you don’t even have to wait to hear what he says,” Frei said. “I want to be there, because it’s going to be something interesting. … I just made my first (art) purchase last year, this tiny little thing. That’s all Adrian’s doing.”

That his time in Seattle has coincided with the best seasons of his career has enhanced Frei’s positive vibe.

When he arrived from Toronto, Frei had played in one Major League Soccer match in two seasons, limited by injury and a shaken confidence. There were hiccups during his first year with the Sounders, but last season he set the club record for saves (111) and a career high for shutouts (10).

Besides an opening-day blunder, it’s tough to fault the defense for Seattle’s 4-7-1 record. The Sounders have allowed 15 goals in MLS action, tied for second lowest in the Western Conference.

“I’m a very loyal person,” Frei said. “To this day, I’ll never forget the chance I was given by the Sounders, and especially by the coaching staff. To bring me in at a time where I wasn’t looking too promising. … I hadn’t even really shown that I was back to myself (after injury). It was a risk.

“I had my growing pains. But every time, they would come back and tell me, ‘Listen, we’ve got your back.’ I will never forget that. I try to repay that.”