Nearing 41, Friedel excels, continues to fuel Tottenham Champions League hopes.
By Robert Wagman
(in Washington, D.C.)
(Thursday, May 3, 2012) -- American goalkeeper Brad Friedel became the oldest man to play for Tottenham Hotspur, extending his English Premier League record of playing 302 consecutive matches and helping Spurs to a crucial 4-1 triumph yesterday over host Bolton Wanderers.
Meanwhile, United States striker Jozy Altidore has a badly bruised back, but no head injury, as originally reported, after a spill for AZ Alkmaar in a 1-1 draw with NEC Nijmegen in the Dutch Eredivisie.
With two matches remaining, Spurs are tied for third place in the Premier League with Newcastle United with both clubs at 19-9-8 with 65 points, but Tottenham (plus-23) onto their edge in the goal-differential tiebreaker over United (plus-9).
Visiting Newcastle kept pace with Spurs with a 2-0 whitewash of Chelsea.
Both teams pull five points clear of sixth-place Chelsea (17-9-10). On Sunday, Tottenham visits fading Aston Villa, while Newcastle hosts league-leading Manchester City.
The fourth-place finisher is placed into a play-in tournament for a berth in the European Champions League. One point ahead of the two clubs is Arsenal at 20-10-6 with third place bringing entry into the Champions League main draw.
Friedel made four saves and Emmanuel Adebayor netted a pair of goals to lead Tottenham past Bolton.
On Wednesday, Friedel was 40 years and 350 days old. The previous Spurs age record was set by Jimmy Cantrell, who was a day younger than Friedel when he made his final appearance in 1923.
U.S. defender Tim Ream went the distance for Bolton (10-22-4 34 points), which dropped into the relegation zone.
Altidore appeared to be nudged from behind by NEC defender Pavel Cmovs, tumbled and slid across the grass into the barrier, a cinderblock wall covered by light padding. He was treated briefly on the turf before being helped to the bench.
Initial reports saying Altidore was knocked unconscious and that he had a concussion were apparently incorrect.
AZ considers Altidore doubtful for Sunday's season finale at home against Groningen though, according to Associated Press, the player said today via Twitter: "Thanks for all the support from you guys. Very painful accident but ill be ok and ready for the weekend if called upon by the manager."
More relevant to American fans, Altidore should be ready for three upcoming U.S. friendlies and the first two World Cup qualifiers in early June.
The U.S. men head into training camp later this month for exhibitions May 26 against Scotland in Jacksonville, Fla., May 30 against Brazil in Landover, Md. and June 3 against Canada in Toronto before semifinal-round qualifiers against Antigua & Barbuda June 3 in Tampa, Fla., and Guatemala four days later.
In the Premier League Tuesday, Fulham won at at Liverpool for the first time ever 1-0 in its 41st try. .
U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey was at the heart of the Fulham goal. In the fifth minute, Dempsey received a pass outside the penalty area, controlled, ran past a defender before laying a pass off to John Arne Riise. Riise's return cross hit off defender Martin Skrtel for an own goal.
Dempsey came twice close to scoring his 23rd goal (in all competitions), once heading a corner kick just wide and then watching diving Liverpool keeper Doni deny him.
Dempsey finished fourth in media voting for Premier League "Most Valuable Player."
U.S. keeper Tim Howard made two saves and also punched two dangerous balls to safety for Everton which registered a 1-1 road draw at Stoke City.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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