Brad Friedel recently re-upped with Tottenham Hotspurs, ending speculation that a January move was on the cards for the accomplished, veteran goalkeeper. With the transfer market just around the corner, the American legend was said to be considering a move back to his old club, Blackburn, possibly as a player/assistant coach. Other clubs with goalkeeping problems were rumored to be interested as well. Anyone that watched Manchester United’s last gasp victory over Newcastle on Britain’s Boxing Day, cannot be faulted for thinking that Friedel would be a serious upgrade over erratic young David de Gea in the Red Devils goal.
But Friedel is apparently content with backing up Hugo Lloris at White Hart Lane, although he said in a Fox interview that he will be competing for the starting job, in what he termed a friendly rivalry, with the French number one.
Friedel, of course owns the English Premier League record with 310 consecutive starts. Now in this new, unfamiliar role, the 41 year old backstop could conceivably challenge the mark as the oldest man to appear in an English Premier League game. Friedel told Fox that he could see himself continuing beyond the end of this extension, when he will be 43 years old. If so the mark, set by John Burridge when he played in goal for Manchester City in 1995, at 43 years and 162 days, could be another milestone to fall to Friedel.
Friedel and Kasey Keller were pioneers for American goalkeepers in the top European leagues, setting a standard while paving the way for Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann and those still to come. Friedel may have his mind set on breaking barriers in the coaching field as well, as he pursues his coaches badges. Over his long career in England, Friedel’s professionalism and approach to the game have garnered the Ohio native a great deal of respect, and it is not too hard to imagine “Big Brad,” one day prowling the sidelines as the first American to manage an English Premier League team.
Another American player to remove his name from transfer speculation recently is Michael Parkhurst. Parkhurst quelled speculation by signing on a free transfer to German Bundesliga strugglers Augsburg, after his contract expired with Nordsjaelland of the Danish Superliga.
Parkhurst has picked up six of his 15 U.S. caps since Jurgen Klinsmann took over as the American coach, starting two World Cup Qualifiers, including the crucial game against Costa Rica that secured a spot in the Hex for the Yanks. The versatile Parkhurst can play anywhere along the back four, and could fill a defensive midfield role in a pinch. The former MLS Defender of the Year has earned Klinsmann’s trust with his dependable play, and seems to have supplanted Jonathan Spector’s as the squad’s veteran handyman.
The 28 year old Parkhurst parlayed some good Champions League performances for Nordsjaelland into this career changing move into one of the world’s top leagues. Although the Danish champions were largely overmatched in group play, going 0-5-1, Parkhurst stood up well against powerhouses Juventus and Chelsea. Parkhurst caught the eye of European scouts, and even earned a spot on the UEFA Champions League Team of the Week in August, after impressing against the Italian giants.
Parkhurst garnered interest from teams in Serie A, La Liga and the EPL, but it was Augsburg who made the commitment. With the Bundesliga on their winter break, Parkhurst will have a chance to train with the team and integrate himself into a team that is fighting for their Bundesliga lives. With just one win and nine points, Augsburg sit three points behind Hoffenheim, and U.S. internationals Danny Williams and Fabian Johnson, at the break. The 17th and 18th finishers are relegated, with the 16th place team facing a playoff with the third place club from Bundesliga 2.
In other words Parkhurst and his new teammates have their work cut out for them, if they are going to keep their place in Germany’s famous Bundesliga.
With Friedel and Parkhurst settled, it may be a quiet transfer window for American players. One U.S. international who will likely be packing his bags is Mikkel Diskerud. With his contract with Norwegian club Rosenborg expiring at the end of 2012 and Diskerud not likely to stay on, the young midfielder is looking for a new home. Some reports have linked the Norwegian-American with a move to the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer, although it seems more likely that “Mix” will remain in Europe.