Friedel moves to Tottenham Hostpur after three seasons at Villa.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Tuesday, June 7, 2011) -- Former United States men's goalkeeper Brad Friedel is moving in the English Premier League from Aston Villa to Tottenham Hotspur, where the 40-year-old signed a two-year deal with the north London club.
"It was a very difficult decision to leave Villa," Tony McGill, Friedel's agent told Sky Sports. "Brad has really enjoyed his time there. . . but Brad felt the time was right to move on, and he has not been short of offers. The last 48 hours have been hectic."
Since Friedel's contract with Villa has ended, no transfer fee will be paid.
"Brad is a top goalkeeper of real quality who has great experience," Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said in a written statement. "It is good to have three such experienced top goalkeepers at the club in (Heurelho) Gomes, Carlo (Cudicini) and now Brad, and it means we have competition for places, particularly with the number of games we will hopefully face next year both domestically and in Europe, as well."
From all indications, there will not be much of a competition. Gomes, Spurs' number one keeper (and also Brazil's) is seriously out of favor with Redknapp after committing a number of costly errors during this past season. Most notable, he fumbled a shot from Cristiano Ronaldo in a Champions League quarterfinal loss to visiting Real Madrid at White Hart Lane in April, a setback that eliminated Spurs.
Gomes has publicly stated he would like to return to his old club, PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
Cudicini, an Italian and former keeper for Chelsea of the Premier League, last month signed a contract extension through the end of next season and will be Friedel's main competition, but he has nowhere near the American's experience.
It was a strange season for Friedel at Villa. When new manager Gernard Houllier took over the club at the start of the season, he looked at Friedel's age and said the club needed a younger top-flight keeper and would attempt to sign one in the December transfer window. At the time, he said that Friedel could leave Villa in December if he received an offer he wanted to take.
Houllier's signings, however, did not materialize, so Friedel stayed in net and played every match this season. Houllier has now departed, resigning for health reasons with a bad heart. After Villa offered Friedel a one-year contract, mostly based on bonuses, and with no manager yet in place, the big American decided it was time to move on after three years with the club and starting all 114 league matches.
Reportedly, Friedel had several offers, including one with Liverpool, the first English club he played for after arriving in December 1997 from the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. He made only 25 appearances in his three seasons with Liverpool.
West Bromwich Albion also reportedly made him a two-year offer, but Friedel chose Spurs based on where he thinks he can continue his remarkable streak of a record 275 consecutive starts in Premiership matches. He has not missed a league game since May 2004.
Friedel played for U.S. in the 1994 World Cup, and was brought to England by Kevin Keegan to play for Newcastle United, but he never did because of work-permit problems. He was loaned to Brondby of Denmark and then to Turkish giant Galatasaray before returned to MLS and the Crew.
He was finally granted a work permit in late 1997 after joining Liverpool and made his Premier League debut for the Reds, starting 25 league games before joining Blackburn Rovers in November 2000. He helped the Ewood Park club to promotion to the EPL that season and spent almost eight years with Rovers. He then moved to Villa in July 2008 and in December of that year, he broke the record for consecutive top-flight appearances when he started his 167th straight match. He ended up with 114 straight league appearances for Villa and 131 in all competitions.
In all, Friedel was on three U.S. World Cup rosters. He backed up Tony Meola in 1994, played in one of the three matches in 1998 and was instrumental as the starter during the Americans' run to the 2002 quarterfinals. He retired from international competition after that with 82 caps.
U.S. keeper Brad Guzan remains under contract at Villa after playing much of the season and making 16 appearances on loan to Hull City of the second-tier English League Championship. His status is unclear in the absence of a new Villa manager.
American keeper Marcus Hahnemann is out of a job and is looking for work after Wolverhamton Wanderers of the Premier League opted not to extend him from his initial two-year contract.
"Marcus was fabulous to work with," Wolves goalkeepers coach Paul Mountain told the Sunday Mercury. "I think he was good for Wolves over the last two years and at the same time Wolves was good for him. "He came in with a lot of experience and on the pitch really helped the team come through a difficult time when he got his chance. He always helped Wayne (Hennessey, the other keeper) when he wasn't in the team and has been good for him, but it was a two-way process as Wayne helped Marcus in exactly the same way.
"I genuinely can't recall him missing a day's training over the two years and that shows how hard he worked and how he kept himself in good shape. And it wasn't just the likes of Wayne and Carl (Ikeme) who he worked well with. He gave the younger Academy keepers plenty of really good advice and was always available for them to talk to, as well."
Hahnemann says he would like to stay in England for another year because of where his kids are in school, but admits his next job may well be in MLS, if a good offer comes along.
Hahnemann, who has played nine times for the U.S., made 39 appearances for Wolves.
U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu is once again in a nether land. FC Twente, the Netherlands club where he played on loan, has declined to exercise an option to buy his contract from AC Milan. Onyewu was loaned to Twente during the January transfer window and made 14 appearances, including 13 starts with the club before missing late-season matches with an injury.
Onyewu's contract with Milan runs through June 2013 and under an unusual clause says he must play the final year of the contract without pay. So it appears that the defender has three possible options: stay at Milan and try to earn playing time, arrange for another loan or find a club willing to buy his contract and pay a transfer fee.
Onyewu has never played for Milan and his future there doesn't look encouraging with the club already acquiring defenders Taye Taiwo and Phillippe Mexes.
Another player seemingly without a team is U.S. striker Jozy Altidore. He has finished up a loan to Bursaspor of Turkey and, according to media reports there, the Turkish club is not interested in buying his contract from Spain's Villarreal. So he appears to have the same options as Onyewu: try to earn playing time with Villareal, find another loan or a club willing to buy out his contract.
It is not at all clear where U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley will end up next season. His contract is owned by Borussia Moenchengladbach of the German Bundesliga. He told the club he wanted out at mid-year and he was loaned to Aston Villa in the English Premier League.
Moenchengladbach reportedly wants a $7.3-million transfer fee for Bradley. Villa is reportedly interested, but will make no move before it has a new manager. Meanwhile, reports out of Italy suggest Roma, with its American owner Thomas DiBenedetto, is interested in both Bradley and U.S. star midfielder Landon Donovan.
Moreover, Moenchengladbach said it never wanted to loan Bradley out in the first place and would be happy to have him back.
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.