Background: When people think of American keepers in England Tim Howard immediately comes to mind. Yet, Friedel has played in a whopping 362 Premier League, almost twice as many as Howard, and was rated higher in the Premier League Performance Index. He also holds the record for most consecutive Premier League appearances at 226.
Friedel's story is typical of many American soccer players. He went to UCLA and then bounced around the MLS and Turkey. After spending three years at Liverpool, during which he failed to secure the starting spot, Friedel moved to Blackburn and has been the number one ever since. His 2002-2003 campaign was arguably his best, as he was named to the EPL Best XI.
The third most-capped keeper in American history joined Aston Villa in 2008 and has started every Premier League match for them since. Last year, Friedel and Villa conceded only 39 goals during the 38 game season, making them fourth best.
He is a commanding presence in the box and always inspires confidence in his defenders. He is a good shot stopper and good in the air. Yet, 39 isn't young, even for a goalie.
Despite a sixth place finish, the Villans faded during the end of the season, partly due to the fact manager Martin O'Neill used only 21 players. Gareth Barry has already left and James Milner seems headed down the same path. Their biggest loss is the that of Martin O'Neill, who resigned a few days ago.
Prediction: Without Barry, maybe Milner, and especially O'Neill, Aston Villa are going to be hard pressed to repeat their sixth place finish. Friedel might not be getting any younger but he still has a few miles left in him. The addition of Richard Dunne helps give him a great, consistent, and underrated back four. Villa may not make it back Europe but it won't be Friedel's fault.