Arena says team may play both Keller and Friedel in goal

Sunday, May 26, 2002

SEOUL, South Korea -- Bruce Arena may have a split decision for his goalkeepers: Play Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel during the first round of the World Cup.

A day after arriving in Asia for the World Cup, the U.S. coach said he had three options:

"One, is we go with the same goalkeeper in all three games. Two, is we split them in Games 1 and 2. And three, is we take it one game at a time," he said before leading the team through its first practice on a hazy and pollution-filled Saturday morning at the Misari training complex, about 15 miles east of Seoul.

Keller was the starter for the United States in the first two games of the 1998 World Cup in France, against Germany and Iran. With the U.S. team virtually eliminated after losing its first two games, Friedel started the finale against Yugoslavia.

Friedel started the first 36 Premier League games for Blackburn in England before joining the U.S. training camp, and helped the Rovers win the League Cup.

"If you look over the last year the strides that Friedel has made have been tremendous," Arena said. "He is a much better goalkeeper in May 2002 than he was in 2001. And obviously having the experiences and opportunities at Blackburn have aided his development."

Keller spent much of the season as the backup at Tottenham Hotspur, but emerged to become the starter in the final seven games of the Premier League season.

"Kasey is not a quitter," Arena said. "He's a guy who didn't play a whole lot in the fall and then got the opportunities with us in the Gold Cup and some other internationals and then came on and demonstrated at Tottenham that he is their best goalkeeper.

Friedel and Keller have split most of the time in goal for the American team this year. Because he was not playing regularly at Tottenham for much of the season, Keller played for the United States in 11 games while Friedel played in four.

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