Brad Friedel finished a phenomenal season at Aston Villa with his seventh shutout of the year as the Birmingham-based club wrapped its English Premier League campaign with wins over giants Arsenal and Liverpool.
Friedel, 40, a former UCLA All-American and U.S. national team star, played every minute of the EPL season -- and all but three of 46 games in all competitions -- as the Villans finished ninth in a disappointing 12-14-12 season.
Friedel is out of contract and plans to meet with his agent this week to determine his future. Villa wants him back -- as former Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan waits in the wings -- and Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion and perhaps Tottenham are interested, too.
Friedel began his English career at Liverpool in 1997, seeing action in 25 games over three seasons. He was with Blackburn for eight years before joining Aston Villa in 2008. He previously played in Denmark, Turkey and with the Columbus Crew.
"Taking into consideration the type of season this has been for us, then Brad has been a fantastic pro, and he's also been a very good keeper,” Gary McAllister, who is managing the team during Gerard Houllier's absence through illness, told the Sunday Mirror. "He's proved that throughout his time here, although that isn't new, because I played with him at Liverpool, and maybe he was a wee bit unlucky not to get more games there.
"The offer of a new contract is a reward for what he's done, and we certainly hope this is not his farewell, otherwise we wouldn't be offering it to him. Because of his age, his schedule is different from other keepers, but he's a guy that knows how to manage his training. You put it all together, and he is a top, top player."
Stewart Downing scored the goal for Aston Villa, which vaulted from 14th to ninth in the 20-team standings in the final two weeks. Michael Bradley, the son of Manhattan Beach-based U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley, was a late substitute for the Villans. It was his second successive appearance but just his fourth in all competitions since joining the club on loan in February.
Aston Villa, which is owned by Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner, has an option to purchase Bradley's contract from German club Borussia Moenchengladbach.
KLJESTAN'S END: Anderlecht closed a disappointing campaign with a meaningless 4-3 loss to Lokeren. Les Mauves, after heading into the 10-game playoff round atop the Jupiler League table, finished third, with Racing Genk taking the title.
Not so disappointing an end, personally, for Huntington Beach's Sacha Kljestan, who after months of starts and stops evolved into a midfield regular with some fine performances down the stretch.
ETC.: Saint-Etienne, with Alta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra, is limping to a finish in France. Les Verts dropped their third in a row Saturday, all by 2-1 scorelines, falling to Sochaux, the club that holds D.C. United forward Charlie Davies' rights. … Pasadena's Yura Movsisyan, healthy at last, made his first start for Krasnodar in a 4-0 Russian Premier League loss at Spartak Moscow. The Armenian national-teamer made his third appearance since missing a month with an injury.
AREA PLAYERS IN EUROPE
D CARLOS BOCANEGRA (Alta Loma/UCLA)
Club: Saint-Etienne (France, Ligue 1)
Last week: 90 minutes at left back as Les Verts (12-13-12) climbed back to eighth place despite a 2-1 loss Saturday at Sochaux
Season: 33 league games (33 starts) with 2 goals, 35 games (35 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions
Next: Sunday vs. fourth-place Paris Saint-Germain (15-8-4)
M MICHAEL BRADLEY (Manhattan Beach)
Club: Aston Villa (England, Premier League)
Last week: 89th-minute substitute as the Villans (12-14-12) jumped from 13th to 9th with a 1-0 win Sunday vs. Liverpool
Season: 3 league games (0 start), 4 games (1 start) in all competitions for Aston Villa; 22 games (20 starts) with 4 goals for Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany)
Next: Season over
G BRAD FRIEDEL (Bay Village, Ohio/UCLA)
Club: Aston Villa (England, Premier Division)
Last week: 90 minutes with 3 saves as the Villans (12-14-12) climbed to ninth with a 1-0 win Sunday vs. Liverpool
Season: 38 league games (38 starts), 60 goals allowed, 113 saves, 7 shutouts; 43 games (43 starts), 72 goals allowed, 132 saves, 7 shutouts in all competitions
Next: Season over
M SACHA KLJESTAN (Huntington Beach)
Club: RSC Anderlecht (Belgium, Jupiler League)
Last week: 90 minutes as third-place Les Mauves (22-8-10) lost, 4-3, to Lokeren in their season finale
Season: 25 league games (20 starts) with 2 goals, 33 games (28 starts) with 3 goals in all competitions
Next: Season over
F YURA MOVSISYAN (Pasadena/Pasadena City College)
Club: FC Krasnodar (Russia, Russian Premier League)
Last week: Started, played 54 minutes, as the Bulls (2-2-5) fell to 12th place with a 4-0 loss Saturday at Spartak Moscow
Season: 5 league games (1 start) with 1 goal, 6 games (1 start) with 1 goal in all competitions for Krasnodar; 25 games (20 starts) with 14 goals for Randers (Denmark)
Next: Sunday vs. fifth-place Dinamo Moscow (4-2-4)