Many Americans were excited to see Old Man Friedel get the call for Tottenham this weekend, even if it was to spell Hugo Lloris following the head injury he suffered against Everton.
It was Friedel’s 450th Premier League appearance and the 42-year-old marked the occasion with a solid performance even if the lone goal scored on him did prove to be the difference in the game.
Following the match, Friedel spoke about Spurs’ goalscoring woes. “I really do not think that, come the end of the season, our goal tally will be one of the lower ones,” the American said. “It will be right up there. We see the quality in training on a daily basis and it is not a lack of confidence or anything of that nature.”
Words spoken like a true leader, one with an even-keeled perspective and long-term outlook. In fact, while watching the former U.S. international between the sticks, I couldn’t help but think that someday he’ll be managing in the Premier League (he currently holds his UEFA B-level coaching license).
But will he be the first American to achieve that distinction?
My instincts tell me ‘no’, that another Yank will beat him to it, possibly sooner than many think.
Fulham’s poor run of results have raised flags over the future of Martin Jol and it seems only a matter of time before he’s cut loose.
If the stars align, that moment could correspond with the impending departure of Bob Bradley from the Egyptian National Team following their second-leg playoff with Ghana.
Sure would be a heck of a way for Fulham’s new American owner Shahid Khan to make a splash.
There was entertainment value in Los Angeles FC’s potential playoff preview with the Portland Timbers on Sunday in the City of Angels, but all that arrived was a scoreless draw.
[ MORE: Atlanta 1-1 Seattle ]
Both Giovani Savarese’s Timbers and Bob Bradley‘s nickname-free expansion club remain in the West’s Top Four. PLAFC remains unbeaten at home during their maiden voyage through Major League Soccer.
Adama Diomande came close for the hosts, who finished with 10-men when Lee Nguyen went studs-up on Sebastian Blanco‘s thigh for a pretty easy red card (though it took some time for Silviu Petrescu to produce the red).
If France’s players had any doubt about the level of import their World Cup title had back home, it was erased when their photos were projected onto one of the most celebrated monuments in the world.
The photos of Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, and company made their way onto the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, hours after France defeated Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup Final.
[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]
The Arc de Triomphe honors those who died in the French Revolution and early 19th century wars, and sits above France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
How humbling must it be for those players to grace such a heavy monument (both in weight and substance).
Ante Cacic’s Croatia was on pace to miss out on the World Cup.
Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia rallied the troops to second place in their qualifying group, a playoff defeat of Greece, and a run to the World Cup Final.
Pretty decent stuff.
[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]
And surely the 51-year-old will reflect on that, probably even this evening, but he’s more focused on a letdown after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to highly-favored France.
Key to the match was a penalty awarded to France when a partially-obscured Mario Mandzukic handled a ball inside the 18, leading to Antoine Griezmann’s pivotal goal.
The PK was awarded via VAR, and France went up 2-1 en route to a three-goal lead. From the AFP:
“I never comment on referees but in a World Cup final you do not give such a penalty,” said Dalic.
“It in no way diminishes France’s win. We were a bit unlucky. Maybe in the first six games we were favored by luck and today we weren’t.
“I have to congratulate my players. Maybe today we played our best game at these championships. Against such a strong side as France you must not make mistakes. We are a bit sad but we must also be proud of what we’ve done.”
Croatia had two-thirds of the ball and doubled France’s shot attempts, and Dalic isn’t the least bit controversial in wondering whether the match is much different if that penalty goes unawarded by referee Nestor Pitana.
A scrappy if not downright venomous affair between the lowly Seattle Sounders and high-flying Atlanta United ended in a 1-1 draw in Georgia on Sunday.
The Sounders went ahead through a Nicolas Lodeiro penalty kick, awarded via VAR a la this morning’s World Cup Final, but Atlanta leveled the score with a highlight which show every bit of the game story.
[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]
Just check Josef Martinez’s barking at Stefan Frei, who made an uncharacteristic error on the play, after his 19th goal of the season (Nice cross, Julian Gressel).
Martinez needs nine more goals to break the MLS single season record, and he has 13 games to score them.
Jordan McCrary was sent off for Seattle in the 63rd minute for a second yellow, but Seattle navigated the final half hour or so to scoop up an unlikely point.
Atlanta still sits first with its earned point but opens the door for New York City FC to reach the top of the table when it plays its match-in-hand, while Seattle is now 11 points back of the West’s final playoff spot.