Brad Friedel made a save, and the chants began raining down from the stands at Toyota Park:
"USA! USA! USA! USA!"
The 43-year-old Tottenham keeper, who was capped 82 times in his career with the U.S. Men's National Team, started Saturday's friendly against the Fire in what he admitted may have been his final match in the United States. He received a standing ovation from the crowd of 17,156 when he was subbed off in the 77th minute, a fitting gesture for the Lakewood, Ohio native who's spent the last 17 years playing in England -- and has the subtle English accent to show for it.
"It's always nice, this is probably one of the last times anyone in the states will probably get to see me play on home soil," Friedel said, "so it was a very good reception, nice to be a part of."
Friedel had stops at Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa before moving to Tottenham in 2011. While he won't start much, if at all, in the Premier League for Mauricio Pochettino's squad -- which features World Cup keepers in France's Hugo Lloris and Holland's Michel Vorm -- he's earned worldwide respect for the work he's put in for club and country over the last 20 years.
“He deserves all the accolades you can give him, to be honest," Fire coach Frank Yallop said. "Is he 43? Not bad. He’s in good shape. But I think that one of the top, if not the top, goalkeepers we’ve seen from the States. I think that he deserved everything he got tonight.”
And while he may be reaching his mid-40's, Friedel's teammates have been impressed with his work ethic to maintain a high level of fitness.
"Brad is a legend," Tottenham midfielder Lewis Holtby said. "Forty-three, still playing for one of the biggest clubs in England or in the world, and I just see him day in and day out in training, he's fit and the reception today from the fans was brilliant. Player's a top character and he works on himself every day. … I think he can play until he's 60."