Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Brad Friedel's EPL Consecutive Start Streak Ends at 310

UCLA Alumnus (1990 National Champion) and US Soccer legend and now EPL legend, Brad Friedel's record consecutive start streak in the EPL is now over at 310 games.  It stretched from August 4, 2004 to September 29, 2013 with 3 different clubs - Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and now Tottenham.  For 8 straight years, he played all 38 Premier League games and the first 6 of this season.  (Friedel also started 37 and 36 EPL games the 2 years before that).  He also played another 46 games in all other competitions during those year as well, which increased his chances of injury.  Also, think about how one red card, a possibility every time there is a 1-1 breakaway, would endanger the streak.  Clearly Friedel has an incredible dedication to both keeping himself in great physical shape and maintaining absolute mental discipline.  He initially broke the record during his time at Aston Villa on November 30th, 2008 with his 167th game.

Even though the last game of the streak was the historic 3-2 victory at Old Trafford vs Manchester United, Villas-Boas decided to drop him for France #1 Hugo Lloris just a week later.  Given that Friedel is now 41 years of age (last season he became the oldest player to ever play in the EPL) and that Lloris was a front page transfer this summer, this was an inevitability.  However, it is indeed strange that the move is made now, especially since Friedel has been in strong form thus far.  Villas-Boas has also not anointed Lloris as the permanent starter either, which is a disappointing way for the streak to end.  I'd think choosing a keeper is much like choosing a quarterback - either you have 1 starter or your have none.  It should have been Friedel's job to lose - either through a lack of performance or injury.  Ultimately, and most impressively, Friedel's iron-man streak is celebrated not just as an American achievement, but as an astounding EPL record.

Interestingly, the holder of the longest current streak belongs to fellow American, Tim Howard, who has played 190 EPL games straight.  (The streak for an outfield player is 164, held by Frank Lampard.)

Friedel also had 82 caps for the US, including its 2002 WC quarterfinal run, easily the most successful US campaign in modern times.  You could argue that Friedel may be the best goalkeeper the US has ever produced and should the World Cup start tomorrow and Howard was injured, Friedel should be the US starter.

Friedel's English career:

1997-2000 Liverpool
2000-2008 Blackburn
2008-2011 Aston Villa
2011-now  Tottenham

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