CLASS OF 2018: Brad Friedel Elected to National Soccer Hall of Fame
FRISCO - Back in 1989, UCLA Soccer’s assistant manager, Dean Wurzberger missed a flight. Had he been on that airplane UCLA would likely have one less NCAA Championship, as the delay allowed him to catch a game of a young high school goalkeeper named Brad Friedel.
According to Friedel, Wurzberger called UCLA head coach Sigi Schmid to tell him about this kid they had apparently overlooked. Friedel would go on to become one of the best collegiate soccer players of all time, helping lead the Bruins to a National Championship in 1990, being named to first team All-American goalkeeper in both 1991 and 1992, and winning the Hermann Trophy in 1993, awarded to the nation’s top collegiate soccer player. Later, Soccer Magazine would name him to their “College Team of the Century.” As if he needed to prove anything else on the Westwood campus, he was also invited to walk on to the UCLA basketball team, arguably the most accomplished basketball program in the nation.
Those college years were only the beginning of what would become a life in soccer for Friedel, and those accomplishments are just an introduction to why he is being inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in October. Friedel would go on to spend decades competing professionally in the English Premier League, Turkey and MLS, as well as representing the United States in international competition. In other words, he was a fixture at goalkeeper in the highest levels of the game.
The Lakewood, Ohio native holds the Premier League record for most consecutive starts, the 310 straight total is a mark that will likely go unbroken for years to come. From 1997-2015, Friedel appeared in 450 Premier League contests (third most by any goalkeeper) with Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Meanwhile, he was a mainstay with the United States Men’s National Team from 1992-2005. He retired from international competition as the second-most capped goalkeeper in U.S. history. To many, his crowning legacy will always be his performance in the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. The United States made an historic and unexpected run to the quarterfinal before eventually losing to Germany in a valiant effort. Perhaps no United States goalkeeper can boast a stretch of contests as significant to the program as Friedel’s 2002 run. He dramatically saved penalty kicks in consecutive games, becoming only the second ‘keeper in World Cup history to save two in a single tournament. The shutout against Mexico in the Round of 16 holds a special place in U.S. Soccer lore, and the final eight finish served notice that the United States had arrived on the world’s stage.
Tab Ramos, who was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame back in 2009, was the one who informed Friedel of his 2018 induction on Thursday. Ramos was teammates with a young Friedel in the 1994 and 1998 World Cup back when the young netminder was brimming with talent and potential. They both went on to become arguably two of the 10 best players in U.S. Men’s National Team history, and will now forever be honored together in the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
In 2017, Friedel was named the head coach of the New England Revolution. There’s little room on any plaque for more accomplishments for Friedel, but if his coaching career is anything like his playing career, there are many more to come.
Hall of Fame Resume
Brad Friedel, Player
Goalkeeper - U.S. Men’s National Team (1992-2005), UCLA (1990-92), Newcastle United (1994), Brondby (1995), Galatasaray (1995-96), Columbus Crew (1996-97), Liverpool (1997-2000), Blackburn Rovers (2000-08), Aston Villa (2008-11), Tottenham Hotspur (2011-15),
Coach - U.S. U-19 Men (2016-17), New England Revolution (2017-present)
Brad Friedel had a decorated club career that spanned more than 20 professional seasons, including 17 in the English Premier League and 13 years with the United States Men's National Team. Between 1997 and 2015, Friedel made 450 league appearances in England's top flight with four clubs: Liverpool (1997-2000), Blackburn Rovers (2001-08), Aston Villa (2008-11), and Tottenham Hotspur (2011-15). As a U.S. international, Friedel collected 82 international caps and was a member of three United States World Cup squads in 1994, 1998 and 2002. The Lakewood, OH native represented the United States at two Olympic Games in 1992 and 2000. Friedel played collegiately at UCLA where he earned the Hermann Trophy in 1992 which is awarded to college soccer’s best player. Friedel was elected into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.