Fire fans salute Tottenham’s Brad Friedel in friendly

Written By By Brian Sandalow For Sun-Times Media Posted: 08/28/2014, 01:01am

Brad Friedel is one of the best goalkeepers in U.S. history.

He was the keeper for the 2002 World Cup team that reached the quarterfinals and became the first to save two (non-shootout) penalty kicks in one tournament.

He also has had a long and successful career abroad, playing for Galatasaray, Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa and now Tottenham Hotspur.

The 17,156 fans Saturday night at Toyota Park paid tribute to Friedel during Tottenham’s 2-0 exhibition victory against the Fire.

Friedel got the loudest cheer during pregame introductions, and he left the field to a standing ovation when he was replaced in the 77th minute.

At 43 and on a one-year deal, Friedel is approaching the end of his career. And with Tottenham’s tour of North America ending, his appearance at Toyota Park could be his last on American soil as a player.

If it was, he left to cheers from a supportive crowd at the end of a tour that meant a lot to him.

“It was very good,’’ Friedel said. ‘‘It’s always nice, probably one of the last times anyone in the United States will probably get to see me play at home. So it was a very good reception. Nice to be a part of it.’’

Players from both teams thought the response was well-deserved.

Fire winger Grant Ward, on loan from Tottenham, praised Friedel for his nature and how easy he is to get along with as a teammate.

“If you train up there, he’ll always try to help you,” Ward said. “He won’t just have a go at you. He’ll try to help you out.

‘‘He’s a nice guy, and you can have a proper conversation with him.”

Fire coach Frank Yallop echoed Ward’s sentiments, calling Friedel a real gentleman and a terrific guy.

“He deserves all the accolades you can give him, to be honest,’’ Yallop said. ‘‘Is he 43? Not bad. He’s in good shape.

‘‘He’s one of the top — if not the top — goalkeepers we’ve seen from the States. He deserved everything he got tonight.”

Harry Kane and Aaron Lennon scored for Tottenham.

NOTE: Midfielder Razvan Cocis made his first appearance for the Fire to start the second half before being replaced in the 77th minute. Cocis was acquired July 14.

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