I wouldn't exactly call it a done deal. It implies that Friedel
will definitely be at Liverpool soon. While the deal between
MLS (remember the clubs don't have any actual say in the matter)
and LFC may be done, there's this not so insignificant matter
of getting a work permit. Americans have had problems with that
in the past (Kirovski comes to mind and even Friedel himself
a few years ago).
>Liverpool have served notice that the future of David James is in doubt by closing in on another giant goalkeeper, the American Brad Friedel.
>They have agreed to pay 1million to Friedel's present club, Columbus Crew, and are confident of obtaining a work permit for the 26-year-old, who will have to establish himself as first-choice at Anfield or be written off.
>They will be wasting their money if they sign him only as cover for James since he will have to appear in 75 per cent of games to have his permit renewed next year.
>Liverpool are already experiencing such problems with Patrik Berger. He and fellow Czech Karel Poborsky at Manchester United were granted special dispensation for one more year after failing to make sufficient appearances last season.
>But appearances as a substitute count and as outfield players, Berger and Poborsky have good chances of appearing in the necessary fixtures.
> Goalkeepers, though, are rarely replaced during a game, so Friedel will have to force his way into the team quickly then hold his place to make sure of extending his career with Liverpool.
>Roy Evans first moved for him soon after taking over as manager in 1994. At that time he was unable to obtain a work permit because he had not played in enough international games for the United States.
>Newcastle and Sunderland later gave up hopes of signing him for the same reason.
>Graeme Souness, who preceded Evans as Liverpool manager, took Friedel to play for him at Galatasaray in Istanbul. He wanted to sign him again when he took charge at Southampton last season but the player still failed to obtain a work permit.
>Now Liverpool are certain he has enough international experience to meet the criteria, although he recently lost his place in the US team to Leicester's Kasey Keller.
>Friedel's arrival will present James, 27, with his biggest challenge since he took over as Liverpool No1 in February 1994. He was signed by Souness from Watford in the summer of 1992 in a deal that eventually cost Liverpool 1.3m. After a promising start he was relegated to third-choice behind Bruce Grobbelaar and Mike Hooper and offered to Southampton in part-exchange for Tim Flowers.
>But when Grobbelaar was injured at Leeds in the third game under Evans, he was sent on as substitute and has not missed a match since.
>He won his one England cap in the friendly against Mexico in March but his form with Liverpool had already dipped. He made a series of expensive errors and was scathingly labelled 'Calamity James'. There were calls to drop him but Liverpool had only inexperienced young reserve Tony Warner available, with the Dane Jorgen Nielsen injured.
>James started this season well, but was widely criticised again for Everton's first goal in the Mersey derby *** last weekend. No blame could be attached to him for any of the Strasbourg goals in the UEFA Cup hammering in France on Tuesday.
>Now he will have to play better than ever, knowing that he will not be able to afford even one mistake if he is to make Friedel a waste of 1million.
Brian Farenell Glens Falls, NY, home of the Adirondack Red Wings
RETURNED PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER -- REPUBLIC OF GUINEA (WEST AFRICA) 1995-97
Member, Sam's Army, Upper Hudson Brigade - 2 Nov: Mexico-US in WCQ soccer
Hey parents, the kids' sports belong to the kids!