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Tuesday, August 23, 2011
EUROPE: Friedel shines in Spurs debut

By Scott French

Brad Friedel finally made his debut for Tottenham, and he wasted no time answering critics who questioned how the London club could spend money to bring in a 40-year-old goalkeeper.


And he did so in a one-sided loss.

Spurs fought gamely for an hour before falling in Monday's clash with defending English Premier League champion Manchester United at Old Trafford, and their 3-0 defeat would have been far worse if not for the able hands of Friedel, an offseason transfer from Aston Villa.

Friedel made 11 stops in an often electric encounter, and he couldn't be blamed for any of the Red Devils' goals, by Danny Welback in the 61st minute, Anderson in the 76th and Wayne Rooney in the 87th.

It was the former U.S. national-teamer's record 276th successive EPL appearance, a streak that dates to 2004 and includes games at Blackburn before his three-year stint at Aston Villa. That meant little to Friedel.

“I don't count the games. I'm just bitterly disappointed with the result,” the UCLA product told Tottenham's website. “I don't play for personal accolades. I really don't. I just want to play to help the team win -- and we didn't.”

Friedel, who has been in England since 1997, is one of the EPL's most complete goalkeepers, but his age -- he's just the third player over 40 ever to play for Spurs, who were founded in 1882 -- prompted criticism when Harry Redknapp signed him to a two-year contract at the start of June.

Among those against the move is former Tottenham star Erik Thorstvedt, a Norwegian goalkeeper who retired in 1996. He says he favors returning Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who is celebrated for acrobatic saves and derided for conceding soft goals.

“I didn’t quite understand the Brad Friedel signing,” Thorstvedt told English website talkSPORT earlier this month. “If you need a third goalie and he’s free and available, then fair enough, but he’s over 40? It would be a strange thing for Tottenham to buy a new No. 1 who is already over 40.

“I would definitely go with Gomes [as first choice]. I’m a big fan of his. He does so many great things. Last season was not his best -- he made some big mistakes, glaring mistakes -- and you want a goalie who doesn’t make many mistakes and that the defense can trust. But he also does some incredible things. He’s still a top, top goalkeeper, and I think the defenders still have lots of faith in him.”

Redknapp's response to such talk was to make Friedel his No. 1 goalkeeper. He'll need to continue to impress to keep Gomes, 30, and Italian Carlo Cudicini, 37, at bay.

EUROPA, EUROPA: Carlos Bocanegra's debut for Scottish champion Rangers FC could have gone better: The Blues surrendered a goal in stoppage to fall, 2-1, in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League series with Slovenia's NK Maribor.

Alta Loma's Bocanegra, acquired in a transfer last week from France's Saint-Etienne, was cleared just hours before the match in Maribor and inserted into the starting XI, teamed with Dorin Goian in central defense. The Glasgow giant went ahead through Juan Manuel Ortiz's first-half goal, and Fontana's Maurice Edu nearly restored the lead after the Slovenes pulled even early in the second half, firing just off the mark.

Rangers, already ousted from the UEFA Champions League, must win to avoid European elimination, but their prospects aren't bleak. A 1-0 win in Thursday's second leg at Ibrox would send them through to the group stage on away goals.

Anderlecht (with Huntington Beach's Sacha Kljestan) and Tottenham (with Friedel) won playoff first legs. The Belgian powerhouse won, 2-1, at Turkey's Bursaspor; Tottenham, with the Brazilian Gomes in the nets, routed Scotland's Hearts, 5-0.

WORTH NOTING: Bocanegra couldn't play in Rangers' league game Sunday, a 3-0 triumph over Motherwell that sent the Blues atop the Scottish Premier League, because he hadn't yet received his visa. It arrived Tuesday, and he's expected to play in his first SPL match next weekend against Aberdeen. ... American winger Alejandro Bedoya is still waiting on his visa and hopes to be in Glasgow in time for the Aberdeen game. Rangers did not register Bedoya for the Europa League. ... Borussia Mönchengladbach, which has Michael Bradley on its books if not in its plans, is the surprise leader three weeks into the German Bundesliga season.

D CARLOS BOCANEGRA (Alta Loma/UCLA)
Club:
Rangers FC (Scotland, Premier Division)
Last week: 90 minutes in a 2-1 loss Thursday at NK Maribor (Slovenia) in a UEFA Europa League first leg; was not eligible to play as the Blues (3-0-1) took the top spot in the SPL with a 3-0 win Sunday at Motherwell
Season: 1 UEFA game (1 start); 2 games (2 starts) for all clubs
Next: Thursday vs. NK Maribor (Slovenia) in a UEFA Europa League playoff second leg; Sunday vs. 10th-place Aberdeen (1-3-1)

M MICHAEL BRADLEY (Manhattan Beach)
Club:
Borussia Mönchengladbach (Germany, Bundesliga)
Last week: Not on the 18-man roster as Die Fohlen climbed atop the Bundesliga standings with Friday's 4-1 win over VfL Wolfsburg
Season: 0 games
Next: Sunday at fourth-place Schalke 04 (2-1-0)

M MAURICE EDU (Fontana)
Club:
Rangers FC (Scotland, Premier League)
Last week: 90 minutes in a 2-1 loss Thursday at NK Maribor (Slovenia) in a UEFA Europa League first leg; did not play as the Blues (3-0-1) took the top spot in the SPL with a 3-0 win Sunday at Motherwell
Season: 3 UEFA games (3 starts); 3 league games (3 starts) with 1 goal; 6 games (6 starts) with 1 goal in all competitions
Next: Thursday vs. NK Maribor (Slovenia) in a UEFA Europa League playoff second leg; Sunday vs. 10th-place Aberdeen (1-3-1)

G BRAD FRIEDEL (UCLA)
Club:
Tottenham (England, Premier League)
Last week: Was on the 18-man roster but did not play in a 5-0 win Thursday at Hearts (Scotland) in a UEFA Europa League playoff first leg; 90 minutes, with 11 saves, as last-place Spurs (0-1-0) lost, 3-0, Monday at Manchester United
Season: 1 league game (1 start) with 3 goals against and 11 saves
Next: Thursday vs. Hearts (Scotland) in a UEFA Europa League playoff second leg; Sunday vs. first-place Manchester City (2-0-0)

M SACHA KLJESTAN (Huntington Beach)
Club:
RSC Anderlecht (Belgium, Jupiler League)
Last week: 90 minutes in a 2-1 victory at Bursaspor (Turkey) in a UEFA Europa League playoff first leg; 90 minutes as the fifth-place Mauves (2-1-1) drew, 2-2, Sunday vs. RAEC Mons
Season: 1 UEFA game (1 start); 3 league games (3 starts) with 1 goal; 4 games (4 starts) with 1 goal in all competitions
Next: Thursday vs. Bursaspor (Turkey) in a UEFA Europa League playoff second leg; Sunday at second-place Club Brugge (2-0-2)

F YURA MOVSISYAN (Pasadena/Pasadena City College)
Club:
FC Krasnodar (Russia, Russian Premier League)
Last week: 90 minutes as the ninth-place Bulls (6-7-8) lost, 1-0, Sunday at Lokomotiv Moscow
Season: 16 league games (11 starts) with 4 goals, 17 games (11 starts) with 4 goals in all competitions
Next: Sunday at second-place Zenit St. Petersburg (12-2-7)

D BRAD RUSIN (UCLA)
Club:
HB Køge (Denmark, SAS-Ligaen)
Last week: Did not play as the last-place Swans (1-5-0) won, 3-0, over Silkeborg
Season: 4 league games (4 starts) with 1 goal
Next: Saturday vs. second-place AaB Aalborg (3-0-3)

F MATT TAYLOR (Irvine/UCLA)
Club:
SC Paderborn 07 (Germany, 2.Bundesliga)
Last week: Was on the 18-man roster but did not play for eighth-place Paderborn (2-2-1) in a 2-1 win Sunday at Dynamo Dresden
Season: 4 league games (1 start) with 1 goal; 5 games (3 starts) with 4 goals in all competitions
Next: Sunday at fourth-place Eintracht Frankfurt (3-0-2)

F BOBBY WOOD (Irvine)
Club:
TSV 1860 Munich (Germany, 2.Bundesliga)
Last week: Was on the 18-man roster but did not play for the seventh-place Lions (3-2-0) in a 3-0 loss Friday at Fortuna Düsseldorf
Season: 0 games
Next: Sunday vs. ninth-place Union Berlin (2-2-1)