Sunday, December 12, 2010

12/12/2010: Aston Villa Keeper Brad Friedel Considers Columbus Return

Brad Friedel- One of the best keepers in the English Premier League, could be heading back to Columbus where it all started for him.

12/12/2010: Aston Villa Keeper Brad Friedel Considers Columbus Return

If Robert Warzycha's demolition and rebuild of the 2008 MLS Cup Champion- Columbus Crew- needed an automatic feel good jolt Brad Friedel's John Hancock signature on a Crew contract would be a fantastic start. Such a high profile signing would get some fans back on Warzycha's side, making them think the coaching staff has a clue. And according to multiple reports Friedel is considering a player-coach contract offer from the Columbus Crew after new contract talks with Aston Villa have halted.

With fan-favorite Guillermo Barros Schelotto on his way out, the Crew could use a veteran leader in their team come Champions League time and there would be no better leader than talisman Friedel; as the Crew could have used a more vocal leader that spoke like this to the press in 2010:

Freidel on Aston Villa's recent form~

"You have to get up for these games, if you don't you really will get
found out," said Friedel.

"It's down to us as players to get our heads up to be confident and win football matches.

"It's not down to a lot of the talking off the pitch now especially when you're on a bad run of form. It's down to us as players to get our heads up to be confident and win football matches.

"You have to do it on the field, all the talking off the field is all well and good but you have to be able to go on there and put a performance in.

"We've been on a terrible run of results. Some of our form hasn't been as bad as the results suggest, but some games have.

"We've had a tremendous amount of injuries but, saying that, the young lads have performed very good at times. It's difficult when you're young, trying to get consistent runs against a lot of good players in the Premier League."

My one big criticism of Frankie Hejduk and Guillermo Barros Schelotto (and the other vets) in 2010 (and why they might be with us no longer) is where was this in the Columbus Dispatch, or other press? Where was the "what the f**k are we doing?" as the Crew continued to slide from their summit of a possible treble in the Summer to letting one possible accolade after another slip away as the season went on. Did they really care? It didn't seem like they cared as they did in 2008 (when they always found a way with their grit and determination), caring didn't show in their play as much in 2010.

Friedel would be a more vocal leader. He wouldn't of let that lackluster play slide for four or five months. Someone has to give a pep talk, instead of the feeling I got from the Crew in 2010, a lackadasical "we already won a cup, two supporters shields, this is MLS, we can get by with giving 75% percent and the fans won't hold our feet to the fire at the end of the season."

And even though Warzycha wants to be younger and quicker in 2011, the good thing about adding Friedel is that he can't slow down your attack in net. And in actuality Friedel's distribution will kick start many attacks. There is no doubt with Friedel that the Crew would upgrade from about the 5th-7th best keeper in MLS to having the best keeper in MLS.

Additionally, one of the foretold rules of football is to rebuild from the back, minus perhaps Dutch and Brazilian football. And one could say that the Crew defense in 2010 looked shaky. The Crew defense, which will be much younger including new signing Hohlbein, could use someone as vocal as Friedel to settle it down in 2011.

Let's just say the Crew need to infuse some veteran players into this club that care deeply about the Crew (Friedel, possibly Stern John). Not to say the previous veterans did not, they just lost something in 2010. Maybe some nonchalance kicks in after already winning and achieving it all.

But, Warzycha is going to need some knowledgeable, coolheaded veterans to lead this group of focus here, focus there players (such as Mendoza, Rogers, Ekpo, and nearly most of the Crew roster other than Marshall and O'Rourke). As a lot of these players have one game where they play out of their minds and they disappear for the next five to ten games.

Stern John always talks about coming back... And although a week ago Crew Techinical Director Brian Bliss said he hasn't talked to Friedel this offseason, he has said Friedel has asked multiple times if a return was possible the last few years:

"Usually in the transfer window periods he’s called asking, ‘Is there any chance I can get in?’ I think he wants to come home. I don’t know about now, but I can tell you Brad has called, to my knowledge, every July and January or every December the last two years."

If true what the heck are the Crew thinking? The goalkeeper of 6TH PLACE ASTON VILLA OF THE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE wants to desperately come home and play for your MLS club. According to this quote, he wants to come back to Columbus over staying in England with Aston Villa. And you say no?

Hesmer is a decent keeper. But, were talking about Brad Friedel here. Who has saved Villa points on many days just from pure heroics. I'm sure if Friedel called Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Toronto F.C., etc. they would have him on the first plane over.

The Crew have to spend some money to compete in this new MLS. They need a veteran leader, someone who can inspire from the back. If New York can have Henry, Marquez, and Angel. We can give Friedel 1/3rd of one of their salaries and another salary as a goalkeeping coach, and still afford to splash on some younger talents in the field.


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