There is no shortage of highlights on Brad Friedel's resume. Over his 23-year professional career, the Lakewood, Ohio-born goalkeeper achieved feats such as becoming a three-time FIFA World Cup participant and holding the all-time Barclays Premier League record for consecutive appearances.
While the former United States international largely made his mark overseas in England, on the day that he announced his retirement effective at the end of the season, it's important to remember Friedel will go down as one of the biggest names to ever suit up for the Black & Gold.
In the summer of 1996, the goalkeeper came to Columbus midway through the inaugural Major League Soccer season following a stint with Turkish powerhouse Galatasaray Istanbul. Friedel made his debut for the club on August 10 of that year in a 3-2 win over D.C. United at Ohio Stadium. Down the stretch in 1996, he became the team's regular goalkeeper, starting nine matches while recording a spectacular 8-1-0 record. He won MLS Player of the Week twice and captured the Player of the Month award in September, when he went 3-1-0 with two clean sheets and just two goals allowed.
On February 24, 1997, Friedel and Columbus came to terms on a new contract. In his first full season between the posts for the Black & Gold, Friedel won the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award following a campaign in which he started 29 of 32 matches for Crew SC, leading the League in goals-against average among regular 'keepers with a mark of 1.21. Following the 1997 season, Friedel left the club to join English powerhouse Liverpool FC. He also plied his trade for Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa before moving to his current club Tottenham Hotspur FC.
Despite having played just 38 games in Black & Gold, Friedel is an important part of club history. He ranks seventh all-time in club appearances/starts by a goalkeeper, fifth in wins (22) and sixth in saves (177). His 11 clean sheets tie him for fourth in Columbus history; in fact, among every goalkeeper in Major League Soccer history with 40 or fewer appearances, no one has more shutouts than Friedel.
On a day the soccer community reflects on Friedel's excellent career, it's seems fitting to remember his role with one of his earliest clubs. Friedel -- to this date the only MLS Goalkeeper of the Year winner in club history -- was an inextricably important cog in the early days of the Black & Gold and will forever be remembered at One Black & Gold Boulevard.