Soccer Premier League

Friedel’s start streak ends at Tottenham

Brad Friedel’s streak of 310 Premier League starts ended Sunday. Photo by danae47-flickr

For 8 1/2 years, Brad Friedel has been a never-ending presence during Premier League matches. It was only a matter of time, however, before he would find himself on the bench.

Friedel’s name was not in Sunday’s starting lineup for Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 victory against Aston Villa, a move which ended the goalkeeper’s record streak of 310 Premier League starts. Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas decided to finally insert French No. 1 keeper Hugo Lloris into the first 11.

AVB’s decision was inevitable given Spurs paid nearly $13 million to sign him on Aug. 31. Despite Friedel’s good performance this season, it would have been inconceivable for Lloris to play second fiddle through the full season. Lloris, who captains the French national team, had played only in Tottenham’s two Europa League matches.

Friedel was at Blackburn Rovers in May 2004 when he last was listed as a substitute for an EPL match. He became cemented in Rovers’ lineup for the next four seasons, then started every EPL match in three seasons for Aston Villa before he moved to Tottenham in 2011.

Prior to Sunday’s match, Brad Guzan, who was Friedel’s backup at Aston Villa, praised the fellow American as “an ideal mentor” for a young goalkeeper. Guzan was Villa’s starter Sunday.

Sunday’s decision by Villas-Boas may have been a surprise given Friedel’s play. Tottenham lost only one of its first six matches, a period that included Spurs’ first victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford in 23 years. But AVB had been criticized by French coach Didier Deschamps for not playing Lloris after he moved from Lyon at the August transfer deadline.

Another American goalkeeper, Tim Howard, now has the longest EPL starting streak at 190 matches for Everton.