Archive for the ‘Brad Friedel’ Category

Friedel: We Have 11 Cup Finals Ahead Of Us

March 2, 2009

Goalkeeper and new author Brad Friedel has told Sky Sports today that Aston Villa face “11 cup finals” in their quest for a Champions League berth.

After only collecting one point this weekend, blowing a 2-0 home lead to Stoke in the final three minutes for a 2-2 draw, Villa remain six points shy of Arsenal and eight from Tim Howard’s Everton.

Friedel thinks both Arsenal and Everton will make it tough on Villa but he seems to think they can pull off a CL slot, telling Sky Sports: “You are always going to have ups and downs in a season. We have 11 games left and we’re quite pleased with the position we’re in. “We’re not absolutely delighted with the position we’re in because there are a few games where we have lost points out on the pitch.”
We have 11 cup finals ahead of us to hopefully cement a place in the Champions League. It’s going to be hard for us, it’s going to be hard for a lot of teams. “David Moyes has Everton playing really well, they are a very strong team. “We all know how good Arsenal can be and I believe they’re going to be getting some of their players back. “It’s going to be tough but hopefully the quality we have in our changing room will help us get to where we want to be.”

Meanwhile, Friedel has released a new book entitled: Thinking Outside the Box: My Journey in Search of the Beautiful Game, which is already being reviewed in the English papers here by a writer who seems to think there is a MLS franchise in Cleveland, but who does a great interview nonetheless.

Bocanegra, Rennes Draw Marseille 4-4 In Wild Finish

August 9, 2008

France’s Ligue 1 got underway tonight as 19 teams try to break Olympique Lyon’s 7-year grip on the championship. American defender Carlos Bocanegra anchored the central defense for Stade Rennais in a battle with traditional power Olympique Marseille. It did not help matters that going into the match, star striker Sylvain Wiltord had been suspended after criticizing coach Guy LaCombe in an interview with L’Equipe. At the same time, the club has been in the hunt for a quality central defender to pair up with Bocanegra, bringing in Lucien Aubey from Racing Club Lens in the last two days – too late to start with the team tonight.

Rennes got on top early with an Olivier Thomert goal in the 6th minute but soon found themselves under a Marseille barrage starting with a 12th minute goal by Bokari Kone (who beat Bocanegra badly in the process) and one by Hatem Ben-Arfa in the 14th. Mamadou Niang added one in the 29th to make it 3-1, which held going into halftime. Thomert scored again in the 51st, making it 3-2.

The Rennes home fans saw a wild finish thinking they had at least managed a draw when Marseille’s Elamin Erbate scored an own goal to make it 3-3 in the 90th minute. Then, two minutes into injury time, Elliot Grandin thought he had the winner tapping in a goal to put the visitors on top 4-3. With injury time running out, a thrusting attack by Rennes led to midfielder Bruno Cheyrou finding the back of the net to make it 4-4 just before the final whistle blew.

An hour’s drive away in Lorient, Andrew Jacobson did not suit up as the home side collected all three points, beating Le Mans 1-0 on a Christophe Jallet goal.

While Freddy Adu readied himself to face the Netherlands in Olympic play, his AS Monaco teammates faced Paris Saint-Germain. After a scoreless 78 minutes, Frédéric Nimani knocked one in to give Monaco the win 1-0.

The English Coca Cola Championship also started competition this week as Jay DeMerit went distance for Watford in a 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.

Earlier in the week, Reading and Aston Villa faced off in a friendly featuring three American players. New signing Brad Friedel played the full 90 minutes in goal and made an impression on the Villa fans stopping a Stephen Hunt penalty in the 10th minute. The penalty was awarded after Marin Larsen took down Reading’s American midfielder Bobby Convey in the box. Friedel could do nothing in the 36th minute when a deflected ball got past him for a Reading goal. A few minutes later, Reading’s American keeper Marcus Hahnemann had to stop a John Carew header from tying the match.

Friedel made a few more key stops later before Villa equalized when Gabriel Agbonlahor slotted a cross past an onrushing Hahnemann in the 80th. The Royals start the Championship season Sunday against Nottingham Forest. Villa’s other American keeper, Brad Guzan, is in China to play with the US Olympic team.

In another preseason friendly, Clint Dempsey put in an unremarkable 15 minutes for Fulham in a 2-2 draw with Torino.

Over in Germany, Hannover 96 opened up its German Cup campaign tonight with a 5-0 win over 4th division side Halle with American Steve Cherundolo going the distance at right back. In the 79th minute, referee Lutz Wagner had to stop the match for 10 minutes due to fighting in the stands and fireworks being launched onto the field.

The Evolution of American Soccer Players In Europe: Part III

August 1, 2008

Part III: The Post-1998 World Cup Breakout

By now, most of the trailblazers had returned home to play in Major League Soccer (MLS); Caligiuri to Los Angeles, Wynalda to San Jose, Harkes to DC United, and Lalas to New England. Nonetheless, the number of American players in Europe exploded to unprecedented numbers with over 20 playing in Germany alone – a combination of established professionals, young players, and journeymen. This time period also saw more Americans playing in other leagues and more importantly, seeing significant playing time.

Claudio Reyna remained in Europe and transferred to Scottish giant Glasgow Rangers, where he scored 10 goals in 64 appearances before a move to English Premiership side Sunderland. Another key player to stay in Europe was Kasey Keller, who after a successful stint with Leicester, became the first American to play in the Spanish Primera when he signed with newly promoted Rayo Vallecano where he stayed for two years, starting every week.

Joe-Max Moore moved over from Nuernberg to Premiership side Everton in 1999, where he stayed until 2002 – earning several stretches of regular playing time. Meanwhile, McBride returned to Europe from the Columbus Crew to play in England for second division Preston North End and later Premiership side Everton. By 2000, Greg Berhalter was at England’s Crystal Palace where he saw the field only 19 times before he left in 2002.

McBride was just one of many transfers from MLS in the late 1990s as some American players, having proven themselves in their domestic league, sought their fortunes in Europe. Five other top players made their way across the Atlantic including DC United ace Tony Sanneh who played for Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin from 1998-2001 before moving to Nuernberg in 2001.

In 1998, Tampa Bay’s Frankie Hejduk was picked up by Bayer Leverkusen in where he had an immediate impact as a striker in Christoph Daum’s “three-headed monster” formation with three forwards. Some fans still remember Leverkusen’s star striker Ulf Kirsten celebrating Hejduk’s first goal by surfing around the penalty area while Hejduk did his own reggae dance. A coaching change, foreign player restrictions, and a huge player pool at Bayer later found Hejduk in a battle to fight his way back into the starting lineup.

Hejduk and other American players in Germany found their playing time restricted by a rule at the time which limited the number on non-EU players on the field to three per team. Regardless of how well an American player’s form, he was fighting for one of three spots, not 11. If your team had a few star Brazilians and top Africans (also non-EU players), even if not playing in the same position as the American, the situation could be very tough. Luckily, these restrictions were later relaxed to allow coaches more latitude in selecting their lineups.

And yet another American keeper found his way to England when the Colorado Rapids Marcus Hahnemann moved to Fulham in 1999 where he served mainly as a backup. Eddie Lewis joined him at Fulham in 2000. By 2002, Hahnemann found a starting job at Reading, a team he helped to later earn promotion to the Premiership. That same year Lewis, who has seen little playing time at Craven Cottage, took a transfer to Preston North End of the English second flight where he scored 15 goals in 111 appearances.

Following in the footsteps of Keller and Tab Ramos was the Chicago Fire’s Ante Razov, who was transferred to Racing de Ferrol of the Spanish second division. During his one year with Racing, Razov scored six goals in 19 appearances before returning to the Fire. It would be several years before another American would suit up for a Spanish club.

The post-1998 era also saw an increasing number of US soccer’s top young talent signing with European clubs but often experiencing mixed fortunes. San Diego native Steve Cherundolo signed on for the Second Bundesliga’s Hannover 96 in 1998 and saw action immediately before a serious knee injury set him back for most of 1999. He later earned the starting role at right back and helped the club achieve promotion to the Bundesliga, becoming a recognized team leader in the process.

A strong US showing at the 1999 U-17 World Youth Championships made even more European clubs take notice as the Stars and Stripes took home the Gold and Silver balls for the best two players in the tournament. Landon Donovan, the Golden Ball winner, signed with Bayer Leverkusen in a deal which had all the marks of making him a future star in Europe. Unfortunately, Donovan found himself inside of an insidious development in modern soccer – a warehouse club. Warehouse clubs stock up on top veteran talent to enable them to be more successful in league and European play but they are seldom a good situation for a young player looking to break into the first team.

Instead of being in a roster of 25-30 players to work his way into a first team of 18 (which was restricted by non-EU player limits), Donovan found himself among 40+ quality players at Leverkusen, many of whom played for their national teams. Fellow Bayer Leverkusen player Frankie Hejduk later said the club had “enough good players to field two good Bundesliga teams.”

So, the FIFA U-17 Golden Ball winner found himself languishing in lower division reserve matches with little chance of ever seeing first team play. US national team coach Bruce Arena seemed to realize Donovan’s predicament and called him up for many US matches to give him a better chance to develop. I interviewed Donovan several times during his time at Leverkusen and while he never came out and said it, I got the impression that he may have felt that the club and given him the “bait and switch.” Sadly, some club officials started to respond to Donovan’s frustration by telling the press he was “homesick” when all he wanted was a chance to play.

But Donovan was not the only U-17 starlet to find that he has signed with a warehouse club. Taylor Twellman, the 1999 U-17 FIFA Silver Ball winner signed with 1860 Munich with expectations that he too would get a chance to work his way into the first team one day (a promise many warehouse clubs seem to make). While Twellman was the leading scorer for the 1860 reserve team, he was later told (after nearly a year with the club) that 1860 “doesn’t really use the reserve team to produce first team players, but rather buys them on the market. ” Unfortunately, this was becoming a trend all over Europe.

While they were not the only young players stashed in the basements of warehouse clubs, both Twellman and Donovan eventually worked their way back to MLS in 2001, where they’ve since made their mark as two of the best players in the league.

Ironically, the one young player in Europe who saw the most first division playing time was not even a member of the 1999 US national youth teams; Cory Gibbs. The 20 year-old Gibbs signed as a central defender for FC St Pauli, which was promoted to Bundesliga in 2001. He started each week and immediately received a baptism by fire against the Bundesliga’s best which often sliced through a soft St Pauli midfield. He became the youngest American to score in the Bundesliga and stayed with the club as they descended into the Second Bundesliga, and eventually the third division. By the end of three seasons, he had started 60 matches, scoring three goals and saw rapid development in his tactical prowess before returning to play for the Dallas Burn in 2003.

The post-1998 World Cup era also witnessed more American players not only in the top leagues, but also in the well-financed German Regionalliga (third division), where salaries were often better than in MLS. Among these players were John Van Buskirk at Sportfreunde Siegen, Jacob Thomas at Eintracht Braunschweig, and the American trio of Tim Lawson, Brent Goulet, Grover Gibson at SV Elversberg

During this time, fans at home started to take greater interest in how American players were faring in Europe but found few sources to provide it. While largely ignored by the major sports media, a small group of online news sources began to appear starting with San Diego native John Dwyer’s weekly report Amis in Deutschland in 1998 (see his excellent web site here). Within two years, new sources appeared such as Soccer Times’ weekly update from European-based reporters; Americans Abroad, as well as periodic US-based reporting on SoccerSpot.Com and in Soccer America’s print magazine.

Coming Next Week: Part IV: The Post-2002 World Cup Era
Comments, Questions, Ideas? courtitalia@yahoo.it

The Evolution of US Soccer Players in Europe: Part II

July 25, 2008

Post-1994 World Cup: Breaking Into First Division Soccer

After the 1994 World Cup in which the US team showed great progress from 1990, the European soccer establishment started to notice two things; that the Americans do indeed play soccer and that a few more of their players are worth signing. The next step was to make the jump from second division teams to clubs playing first division soccer.

By now, John Harkes moved to Premiership side Derby County while defender Alexi Lalas signed with Padova of the Italian Serie B in 1994. Lalas would help Padova earn promotion to Serie A while Roy Lassiter was loaned to Genoa for the 1996-1997 season. After that, it would be several years before another American suited up for an Italian professional team. Meanwhile, all time US scoring leader Bruce Murray left England after a one-year stint at Milwall where he scored two goals in just over a dozen appearances.

The advent of Major League Soccer (MLS) in 1996 slowed but did not stem the flow of US talent to Europe as the young league could not afford to match continental salaries. MLS would later prove, however, to be a launching pad for the European careers of many American players.

In Holland, Dutch-American Earnie Stewart was still playing for First Division side Wilhem II before moving to NAC Breda. Then in 1998, John O’Brien signed on with powerhouse Ajax and was later loaned to Utrecht where he established himself as a dangerous midfielder in the Dutch league before returning to Amsterdam. Also, a handful of players were plying their trade in Denmark and Switzerland. So, in addition to achieving a presence in the bigger soccer nations, US players were broadening their presence into some of Europe’s smaller leagues.

After short stints at NewCastle United and Denmark’s Brondby, Brad Friedel landed at Turkish power Galatasaray in 1995 and started nearly every match before retuning to play for the Columbus Crew from 1996-1997. He then found himself back in Europe in the rarefied air of Liverpool in 1997. After a protracted battle with the UK Home Office to get a work permit, he languished and Anfield until 2000, making only 25 appearances before signing with Blackburn Rovers, where he has been a mainstay ever since.

At this time, while some inroads were being made in other countries, Germany remained the most fertile European soil to grow American professional players. In 1994, Saarbrucken tried another American striker in US international Joe-Max Moore who scored 13 goals in 25 games for the Second Bundesliga team. In 1995, he moved to 1FC Nuernberg where he tallied eight goals enroute to becoming a fan favorite for his tireless work rate and goal scoring when the team needed it most.

In 1994, a young Claudio Reyna signed on with Bayer Leverkusen where he worked his way up to the first team, making 26 appearances in three seasons. By 1997, he moved to Bundesliga side VFL Wolfsburg where he flourished as a starter and became the team captain – the first American to do so in a major European soccer league. Playing alongside Reyna at Wolfsburg was fellow American Chad Deering who played with the club from 1996-1998 before returning to play for the Dallas Burn in MLS. Reyna and Deering both helped Wolfsburg earn promotion to the Bundesliga in 1997.

Another young American, Jovan Kirovski, after spending an extended period with the Manchester United youth program was denied a work permit to play professionally in England. So, in 1996, he signed with Bundesliga power Borussia Dortmund where he saw limited playing time. Nonetheless, in 1997 Kirovski became the first American to score in Champion’s League play, and to earn a CL winner’s medal during Dortmund’s successful run to the title. Of course, many observers in Germany did not recognize the California-born Kirovski as an American, thinking he was just another east European import.

Around the same time, German-American players started to indicate their desire to play for the US team, often discovered by fellow German-American Tom Dooley. Dooley brought in David Wagner, his teammate at Schalke 04 and later uncovered Michael Mason at FC St Pauli. US coach Steve Sampson called in both players several times in 1997-1998 but neither made the 1998 US World Cup Team. Wagner, Mason, and his younger brother Marco would continue to play professionally in Germany well into the-2004-2005 season.

Paul Caligiuri stayed in Germany but moved to SC Freiburg of the Second Bundesliga while Eric Wynalda transferred to VFL Bochum of the same league. Greg Berhalter went to Dutch side FC Zwolle in 1994 before moving on to Sparta Rotterdam and finally Cambuur Leewarden, where he saw more regular playing time. This time period also saw increasing numbers of lesser-known players being signed to professional contracts such as Joe Enochs at FC St Pauli and Melchior Arnold at FC Luzern in Switzerland. While most US players earning their paychecks with German and some Dutch teams, more players started to work their way up the ladder in the English game.

In 1995, Mike Lapper made a move to second division club Southend United, where he made 52 appearances. That same year, Juergen Sommer, current US goalkeeper coach , became the first American keeper to play for a Premiership side when he signed on for Queen’s Park Rangers (after an early 1990s stint at Luton Town). Then, in 1996, Keller was transferred to the English Premiership’s Leicester City where he made 99 appearances and helped the team win the 1997 League Cup. As time passed, an increasing number of American goalkeepers would be plying their trade in England.

One of these goalkeepers was Ian Feuer who already had stints at Peterborough and Luton Town before being loaned out by the New England Revolution to English minnow Rushden and Diamonds. His most memorable impact came in early 1999 when his heroics in front of the Rushden and Diamonds goal helped the home side claim a 0-0 draw with Leeds in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. Feuer’s ability to successfully withstand the Premiership side’s barrage are still remembered by the club’s faithful today.

This article is a continuation of Part I which you can read here.

Coming Next Week: Part III: The Post-1998 World Cup Breakout

Comments, Questions, Ideas? courtitalia@yahoo.it

Aston Villa Eyes Three American Players

July 10, 2008


Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill is looking to strengthen his squad on the defensive end which has him targetting a number of players, including three Americans.
The team needs a roster deep enough in quality to hold its own in League and European play this season. “I would hope for us to have a real proper squad, at least the size of, say, Everton. “We need players and we know what we have to do,’’ he said. “We’re continuing to work on other deals. We have many things going on at this moment” said O’Neill.

In looking for help on defense, he is targetting Shefffield Wednesday’s American Frank Simek, along with West Ham’s Anton Ferdinand, among others. Villa is also considering signing either US and Chivas USA’s Brad Guzan, or Blackburn’s US international Brad Friedel. The Guzan-Friedel consideration is believed to be an either/or choice since it may be difficult to make room for both.

O’Neill remarked that “we are hoping to resolve the goalkeeping situation pretty soon. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we’ve got a small squad and we don’t really want to be going into this season facing up to games with what we had on the pitch being what we have.”

All the while, Simek told the BBC yesterday that he does not know when he will be fit enough to play again since he he still recovering from a serious ankle injury. He missed the last half of last season after suffering serious ligament damage during a road game at Crystal Palace in December 2007.

At the same time, Wednesday chief Brian Laws has dismissed reports linking Simek with a move to Aston Villa. Laws told BBC Radio Sheffield that they have received no approach from Aston Villa. He remarked that “Aston Villa have never even made contact, there’s no truth in the matter.”

In other tranfer news, Heerenveen’s Michael Bradley has told the Dutch press that he “wants to play in a big league and prefers to play in England.” The 20-year-old American is still considering offers from AS Monaco, Bayer Leverkusen, Blackburn Rovers, and Middelsbrough.