February 2010

Brad Friedel: Bradley’s Plan B?

While my somewhat gritty reputation does precede me, this post is not about birth control. Maybe next time, dear Yanks readers. I do, however, offer a PBR-fueled apology if this presents disappointment.

Recently, TYAC senior staff writer Jon Levy wrote a thought-provoking piece about the many reactionaries calling for Brad Friedel to join the USMNT roster. Simply put, Levy’s stance is that Tim Howard is and should continue to be the USMNT minder of the net without reservation or concern. Hell, I could not agree more. Tim Howard is our guy. Anyone who says otherwise is either a misinformed jackleg, simply has no actual knowledge of the game, or wants an angry-Chuck-Liddell-in-his-prime beating from me. While Levy’s post was well-constructed, there is one angle that he failed to examine. What happens if Timmy gets hurt? First of all, let me offer a bit of disclosure: I am a huge Howard fan. From time to time I dream of Timmy anchoring the defense of Blankcheckster City instead of Shay Given. If a Madden-esque curse should somehow stricken Howard in the wake of this post, it will most likely result in a PBR and whiskey binge – quickly followed by the rest of TYAC staff urinating on my passed out naked (and dare I say, hairy) body. I concede this question is something we’d hate to have to answer, but it’s always better to prepare for the worst. That is why I think Plan B-rad Friedel should join the USMNT for this summer’s trip to South Africa. Friedel, (hereby referred to as Plan B) should hop on the plane with the understanding that he will function as a more than capable backup. My reasoning is obvious; there’s simply no downside to this move. So we replace a goalkeeper that was not going to see any time on the pitch (i.e. Perkins) with a seasoned veteran that in the direst of circumstances would be more reliable than a World Cup rookie. Seems like a no brainer to me. Plan B has given no indication that his ego would get in the way of him returning to the USMNT strictly in a backup capacity, so why not make the call? What’s the worst that can happen; we end up hurting Guzan’s ego? With all due respect to Guzan, who gives a shit? Plan B is better than Guzan. You know it, he knows it, and everyone knows it. That is why he sits on the bench and watches Friedel’s excellent performances from the sidelines at Aston Villa. I suggest Guzan learns as much as he can from Plan B while he is still on Villa. This is the point where a fair share of people want to say, “But Puck, Plan B is retired from international play, and anyone who comes back would want to be a starter.” Two points, first this retirement idea is horseshit. If you still play soccer in arguably the most competitive league in the world, you are not retired. Forget just playing, he is having one of the best years of

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his EPL career. As long as he continues to play soccer to pay the bills, he is not retired. As to the “he wants to be a starter” jacklegs, we simply do not know that. Plan B has given no evidence that his ego is

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larger than Rex Ryan (Not Sexy Rexy’s ego, his actual size). Why would we assume such things? There are plenty of examples of players coming back from international retirement to play for their country in many sports. Hell, all signs point to Ruud Van Nistelrooy, a former Dutch National Team player with tremendous goal scoring ability, rejoining his former mates as a bench player for the upcoming World Cup. Finally, some people would have concerns that Plan B would not have time to gel with our defense. My response is simple; we don’t really need him to. It’s just like a backup QB. The starter gets nearly all the snaps in practice and the backup is there just

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in case. Also, replacing a goalie is not as difficult as replacing a midfielder. Inside the 18 yards box, the keeper is the big swinging dick no matter who it is. That’s what they teach players when

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they first start playing the game. In short, bringing Plan B is just a smart idea. For anyone who plays poker, its great pot odds. We give up very little to possibly win a ton a money. Bobbo, please make the call, we have nothing to lose. You always need to plan ahead with an insurance policy. If Tim picks up a knock, or takes a shitty red card, wouldn’t you feel a lot better knowing you had Plan B in your medicine cabinet? Because that’s what Plan B is, insurance, for those “just in case” moments… Puck is the token pop culture guru and occasional serious columnist for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at puck@yanksarecoming.com.


  • Dan

    “Plan B is better than Guzan. You know it, he knows it, and everyone knows it. That is why he sits on the bench and watches Friedel’s excellent performances from the sidelines at Aston Villa.”

    Friedel has world-class anticipation, positioning, and communication. He’s solid on crosses (cf. Cech). He’s a leader on the pitch, he’s the consummate professional off the pitch, and his reflexes are still sharp as a scalpel (cf. Dida). But you can’t tell me that Freidel is half as agile or has half the vertical leap as Guzan, which counts for a hell of a lot. When there is a bullet screaming from the 18 into the upper 90, all the anticipation in the world won’t help you if you can’t make it there in time.

    Friedel is having one of the best seasons of his career, enough to make you think that he might even have another one in him. But Guzan has physical tools that Friedel doesn’t. Friedel’s a veteran, Guzan’s a rookie–that’s why Friedel starts. Rest assured, Guzan is learning as much as he can from Friedel, but (similar to Seitz, who’s only just now getting his chance to shine, after three seasons under Rimando) he won’t pick up the kind of mental tools that Friedel has until he gets minutes.

    I’d take Friedel to the World Cup this summer, and I’d even put him at No. 2 ahead of Guzan, but you can’t just toss it out casually that “Friedel’s better than Guzan, and everyone knows it.” It’s more complex than that.

  • It’s not a bad idea. If Tim Howard is the birth control pill then Friedel should be the Plan B we buy from Walgreens after prom night. If Friedel’s on board (I was under the impression he had said he wouldn’t go back unless he started) then the only problem is to get Bobbo to book Friedel’s ticket on the flight to S.A. If we can’t then having Guzan or Hannaman in the net isn’t the end of the world.

  • Puck

    I absolutely concede that Guzan has a a higher Vertical leap than Plan B. However, this is not the NFL combine. As any goalie in any sport can tell you, the two most important traits you need to be successful are 1) excellent positioning, and 2) great anticipation. The only way to really perfect these two characteristics is through time on the pitch.

    Was I a bit harsh on Guzan in an effort to make a point? Probably.
    I have no doubt that Guzan will be an excellent player on the USMNT when his time comes. It basically comes down to what the manger favors more, raw physical ability, or experience and savvy. If I am the skipper, I vote for experience on the worlds largest stage.

  • The US always seems to be a breeding ground for goalkeepers. The number of world class keepers we turn out is quite incredible if you think about it. We’ve got Timmy, Brad Friedel, Guzan, and we had Keller. I feel quite secure when any of those guys are minding the net. Obviously Keller’s time has come and gone, but those three others are so good that they could easily be our #1 if Timmy went down, and I wouldn’t feel less safe for our defense.

  • Brendon

    Dan’s a clown. This isnt indoor. More trees my friend, you’ll have some extra time on your hands to watch and understand the position.