A goalkeeper who was the most acclaimed star of the United States’ run to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup and the most successful American player ever in English club soccer.
Friedel’s English career got started slowly, particularly because of his repeated difficulties in getting a British work permit. Before signing with Liverpool in the middle of the 1997-98 English season, he had been the starting goalkeeper for the United States at the 1992 Olympic Games, had been a member of the United States squad at the 1994 World Cup and had played four professional seasons in other leagues, two in MLS, one in the Danish first division and one in the Turkish first division.
Friedel began his English career at Liverpool before moving in 2000 to Blackburn Rovers, where he began the rise that established him as a major star in English soccer. Over the course of his 17-year career in the English Premier League, he played three seasons at Liverpool, eight at Blackburn, three at Aston Villa and three at Tottenham Hotspur. During that time, he set a record for the most consecutive starts by any player in the English Premier League with 310 between 2004 and 2012.
Friedel was a narrow choice over Kasey Keller to play in goal for the United States at the 2002 World Cup, but ended up playing every minute of all five United States games. His heroics included two penalty saves, against South Korea and Poland. The 82 full internationals that he played for the United States between 1992 and 2004 also included three of the United States’ six games in its run to the semifinals of the 1995 Copa America and two of the United States’ five games in its run to the semifinals of the 1999 Confederations Cup. Friedel retired from the U.S. national team in 2004, but then played for another decade in England.
Friedel won a number of individual honors over the years, including being named the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 1997, the English Premier League Goalkeeper of the Year in 2003 and the USSF Men’s Athlete of the Year in 2002. In 2013, he was chosen as the goalkeeper on the U.S. men’s national team all-time Best XI.
Inducted in 2018.