U.S. national team star and former Columbus Crew goalkeeper Brad Friedel announced his retirement from international competition on Monday. The 33-year-old, who played two seasons in Columbus before moving to the English Premier League, will continue his club career with Blackburn Rovers.
"I would like to spend my time away from my club team with my family," Friedel said during a telephone conference call. "The second reason is based on prolonging my club career, because I have picked up, albeit slight, muscular injuries lately."
The commanding Friedel was a major part of the U.S. national team's unprecedented success at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, where they advanced to the quarterfinals before falling to eventual runner-up Germany. It was the best showing by a U.S. team in the competition since its inception in 1930. Friedel saved two penalty kick attempts during in five games, including a crucial stop against South Korea in the USA's second match.
"Certainly his performance in the 2002 World Cup was a huge factor in our success," said U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena during the call.
Friedel joined the Crew for the inaugural MLS season in 1996. In that year the Ohio native played in nine matches, posting four shutouts and an impressive 0.78 goals against average. He was the regular starter for Columbus in 1997, featuring in 29 contests. Eight times Friedel kept clean sheets, stopping 131 shots and earning a 1.21 GAA on the season. He also made seven playoff appearances for Columbus over two seasons, allowing 12 goals.
After making his national team debut in 1992, Friedel went on to earn 82 caps. He played in two World Cups and racked up 24 shutouts during his tenure. Friedel transferred to Liverpool FC in England on Oct. 24, 1997, then moving to Blackburn in the middle of the 2000-2001 season. He was voted the top goalkeeper in the Premier League by fellow players following a superb 2002-2003 campaign. The UCLA product has 18 months remaining on his current contract, though he has expressed an interest to extend that deal.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.