Friedel now appears to be staying at Aston Villa for multiple years.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Tuesday, April 5, 2011) -- In what is really a startling turn of events, it now looks like American goalkeeper Brad Friedel is going to be staying at Aston Vila in the English Premier League.
In December, Villa's then-new manager, Frenchman Gerard Houllier, was saying that while he was certainly not unhappy with Friedel's play, it looked as if the 39-year-old keeper was nearing the end of his Premiership career and Houllier very publicly went shopping for a replacement. It was announced that should one be signed during the January transfer window, Friedel could gain release from his contract and seek a club elsewhere.
This, in turn, led to rumors on both sides of the Atlantic that Friedel would be heading back to Ohio and become player-coach of Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew, a rumor that Columbus was quick to say was news to them.
For varying reasons, none of Houllier's supposed targets came aboard and Friedel stayed in Villa's goal. He did not just stay, but continued to play at a very high level and now it looks like he will continue to do so in the future. Friedel has played in 31 matches behind a porous defense and has five clean sheets. According to the EPL's Actim statistics, Friedel is ranked 10th among keepers and 82nd among all players.
Tony Gill, Friedel's agent, told Great Britain's Press Association that his client is close to agreeing a new deal at Aston Villa, a contract for more than one year. Houllier seems convinced that Friedel can continue to play at a Premier League level.
"We are in talks over a new contract," Gill told reporters. "Brad is very happy at Villa. If Brad was not happy, he would not be talking over a new contract. I have spoken with (Villa chief executive) Paul Faulkner and talks are going very well indeed."
Several factors may be at work here. One is that Friedel has emerged as one of Houllier's staunchest supporters in a season that has been awful for Villa, in a three-way tie for 14th place at 8-13-10 with 34 points, only two points clear of the relegation zone with seven matches remaining. With Houllier feeling the wrath of fans, Friedel's vocal public support has been important both inside and outside of the locker-room. Friedel played at Liverpool during the early part of Houllier's reign at Anfield in the late 1990s.
Only nine points separate ninth place and last-place Wigan Athletic (6-12-13), which is only five points below Villa. Presumably, Friedel's new agreement might include him staying with the club should he be demoted.
Meanwhile, Villa signed goalkeeper Andy Marshall to a new one-year pact. United States keeper Brad Guzan spent the first half of the season as Friedel's backup before going on emergency loan to Hull City, where he has played well. What his future is at Villa is unclear.
On Saturday, Friedel and Villa traveled to Everton, which uses U.S. keeper Tim Howard in goal. Friedel was credited with three saves and Howard none in the 2-2 draw with Everton using a late penalty kick to even the score.
U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley did not dress for Aston Villa. On Monday, he went 90 minutes for the Villa reserves in a 3-1 victory over their Liverpool counterparts.
U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey went the distance for Fulham in a 3-0 win Saturday over Blackpool.
German-American midfielder Jermaine Jones played 89 minutes for Blackburn Rovers in a 0-0 draw Saturday with Arsenal.
U.S. defender Jonathan Spector dressed, but stayed on the bench for West Ham United, which lost 4-2 to Manchester United on Saturday.
Keeper Marcus Hahnemann, back from a U.S. national team start against Paraguay, was the backup for Wolverhampton Wanderers in their 4-1 loss Saturday to Newcastle United.
U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden, recovering from a knee injury, was not available to Bolton Wanderers for their 2-1 loss Saturday to Birmingham City.
Guzan recorded five saves and received a yellow card Saturday for Hull City, which dropped a 1-0 decision to Millwall.
In the second-tier English League Championship, American defender Eric Lichaj played 90 minutes for Leeds United's 4-1 triumph Saturday over Nottingham Forest.
Robbie Findley is recovering from a thigh injury and sidelined for Nottingham Forest.
American defender Zak Whitbread went the distance for Norwich City, which cruised 6-0 past Scunthorpe United on Saturday.
American striker Eddie Johnson played the first 59 minutes for Preston North End in its 2-1 win Saturday over Swansea City.
American forward Conor Doyle is with the U.S. under-20 national team and was not present for Derby County's 4-1 loss Saturday to Cardiff City.
In the third-tier League One, American defender Frank Simek went the distance for Carlisle United, which defeated Brentford 1-0 Sunday to capture the Johnstone's Paint Trophy (League Cup) final.
American striker Mike Grella played the final 11 minutes for Swindon Town in its 1-1 draw Saturday with Hartlepool United.
In Scotland's Premier League, U.S. midfielder Maurice Edu went 90 minutes for Glasgow Rangers in their surprising 3-2 Saturday loss to Dundee United.
In the German Bundesliga, U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo who rested a sore groin and did not return to the U.S. for last week's two friendlies, played 90 minutes for Hannover 96, a 4-1 loser to Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.
As usual, U.S. midfielder DaMarcus Beasley did not dress for Hannover.
U.S. midfielder Ricardo Clark went the distance for Eintracht Frankfurt in its 1-1 draw with VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday.
American defender Timmy Chandler sat out a one-match red card suspension and did not dress for 1. FC Nürnberg's 1-0 loss Sunday to FC Cologne.
American keeper Daniel Williams, recovering from a knee injury, was not available to SC Freiburg for a 1-1 draw Saturday with 1.FSV Mainz 05.
In the second-division 2.Bundesliga, American keeperDavid Yelldell after playing the second half of the U.S. friendly against Paraguay, went the distance and received a yellow card for MSV Duisburg, a 2-1 loser Saturday to SpVgg Greuther Furth.
American keeper Luis Robles came off the bench for the final 34 minutes for Karlsruhe, which drew 2-2 Friday with VfL Osnabruck.
American striker Edson Buddle, who returned back to Germany from the U.S. training camp, started and played 66 minutes for FC Ingolstadt 04 in its 2-1 victory Friday over Energie Cottbus.
American defender Amaechi Igwe, recovering from a knee injury, was not available to Ingolstadt.
American striker Bobby Wood is with the U.S. under-20 men and was not available for TSV 1860 Munich and its 2-1 loss Sunday to Alemania Aachen.
American midfielder Alfredo Morales did not dress for Hertha Berlin, a 2-0 loser Sunday to SC Paderborn 07.
Two Americans are now coaching in Germany. Joe Enochs was named head coach at the 2.Bundesliga's Osnabruck, which he played for many years.
Former U.S. international David Wagner, who enjoyed dual U.S.-German citizenship because he had and American serviceman father and German mother, was named coach of Borussia Dortmund's under-23 team. For the past two seasons, he coached Hoffenheim's under-17 and under-19 teams.
In the Netherlands, U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu returned with soreness from the U.S. match with Argentina, so he dressed, but rested on the Twente Enschede bench in a 2-0 win Saturday over PSV Eindhoven.
In France, U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra played 90 minutes for St. Etienne Sunday in its 1-1 draw with Valenciennes.
In Turkey, after making the long trip back from the American men's match in Nashville, U.S. forward Jozy Altidore came off the bench and played the final four minutes for Bursaspor in a 0-0 draw Sunday with Fenerbahce.
In Turkey's second division, U.S. midfielder Freddy Adu played the final half hour for Caykur Rizespor in a 3-0 loss to Mersin Idmanyurdu on Sunday.
In Belgium, U.S. midfielder Sacha Kljestan dressed, but did not play for RSC Anderlecht in its 3-1 loss Sunday to arch-rival Standard de Liège.
In the Danish Superliga, American defender Michael Parkhurst played the first half for FC Nordsjaelland, which drew 0-0 Sunday with Horsens.
American forward Chris Rolfe played the final 15 minutes for Aalborg BK in its 1-0 loss to Odense BK on Saturday.
American attacker Marcus Tracy is out with a knee injury for Aalborg.
American defender Clarence Goodson is still out with a broken toe and unavailable to Brondby IF, which drew 2-2 Sunday with Silkeborg.
In the second-level First Division, U.S. midfielder Benny Feilhaber, still nursing as thigh injury, is sidelined for AGF Aarhus, which won 3-0 Sunday over Kolding.
In Sweden, American midfielder Alejandro Bedoya went the distance for Orebro SK, which defeated IFK Goteborg 1-0 on Monday.
American defender Ryan Miller dressed, but remained on the bench for Halmstads BK in a 0-0 draw Saturday with Kalmar.
American defender Gale Agbossoumonde is with the U.S. under-20 team and thus was not available for Djurgardens IF.
In Norway, American midfielder Mikkel Diskerud played 90 minutes for Stabaek IF, a 2-1 winner Sunday over Rosenborg.
Nineteen-year-old attacker Josh Gatt received his first European start, playing 78 minutes for Molde FK in its 2-2 draw Sunday with Tromso. A week earlier, he came off the Molde bench in his debut.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
Do you have a comment on this story or something to say about soccer in general? Send us a letter.
©Copyright 2011 SoccerTimes.com. All Rights Reserved.