As an avid fan of soccer, or football if your prefer, I try to keep up with all the latest in soccer news regarding the domestic league’s or those abroad. Specifically, this means keeping up with Major League Soccer (MLS), the North American Soccer League (NASL), and the USL Pro League. It goes without saying that I am following the best leagues, including the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, and the Bundesliga. The international stage it what truly sets this game apart from the others, which is why I even began writing this blog.
It is important to pay your respects when it is due, and a recent retirement in US soccer warrants such an honor. This week, United States goalkeeping legend Brad Friedel announced his retirement. Currently a backup keeper for the Tottenham Hotspurs, Brad Friedel is calling it quites effective at the end of the Premier League season. Brad Friedel established himself not just as an American great in Europe, but as a one of the most consistent and solid goalkeepers the English Premier League has seen in recent years.
Back in 1998, a 26 year old Brad Friedel debuted for Liverpool. He played a total of 25 games for the legendary club before making a move to Blackburn. To date, he is the only American to play for Liverpool in the English Premier League. Brad’s time at Blackburn would be the beginning of the longest consecutive starts streak in the Premier League. During this time, Friedel appeared in an incredible 310 consecutive games. This amazing accomplishment spanned the course of 8 years. To date, that is the longest streak by 100 games. Tim Howard, the current US goalkeeping legend, is second at 210. Friedel currently holds a 78 game advantage over any American who has played in the Premier League with 450 games.
While Friedel retired from the international game back in 2005, his 82 appearances are still littered with memorable performances. This includes his legendary performance in goal during the 2002 World Cup when he became just the 2nd goalie to save two penalty kicks in a single game. That year the United States Men’s National Team reached the quarterfinals, the team’s best finish since 1930. They eventually lost to Germany 1 – 0 in what remains a somewhat controversial game.
Brad Friedel ultimately showed the international football community what Americans have often longed for – respect. Over the course of several decades of playing professionally, Brad Friedel showed the world what it meant to be a professional and succeed at the highest level. Let’s hope the United States continues developing players with the dedication and professionalism of Brad Friedel. Congratulations on an incredible career and may you continue to share you knowledge of the future of American soccer.