The fixture between Aston Villa and Everton last weekend and the recovery performance by Brad Friedel for Tottenham against Hull in the Capital One Cup have highlighted a strong and successful American influence in the Premier League – does playing American sport as a youth player produce strong characteristics to make it as a goalkeeper in Europe?
It was a tale of two keepers at Villa Park last Saturday which saw Roberto Martinez’s Everton beat Aston Villa 2-0.
The game saw two Americans between the posts in the form of Brad Guzan and Tim Howard who both delivered in a match which saw the two Belgian beasts of the Premier League (Christian Benteke and Romelu Lukaku) line-up with a keen eye for goal.
Howard’s early penalty save from Benteke was met with plaudits from his manager and many a pundit on the day as he also saved two one-on-one breaks from Benteke and Andreas Weimann. Brad Guzan wanted to take the headlines for himself as he too saved many a decent effort from the ever potent Lukaku.
Brad Friedel passed the ultimate test of any goalkeeper this week in a penalty shootout against Hull City to help clinch a Quarter Final spot for Tottenham Hotspur.
He managed two stops in the shootout to help Spurs and again highlights the vast abilities that US keepers provide.
Friedel has been an ever-present in the English Premier League for almost 20 years as he began a loan spell at Newcastle from the United States Soccer Federation in 1994.
Friedel recently underwent a scouting trip to America on behalf of Tottenham to watch up and coming keepers at a soccer camp.
Does playing American sports such as Basketball and American Football allow for young sportsmen to adapt strong hand-eye coordination thus producing excellent Premier League goalkeepers?
American Football helps to adapt the skill of assessing a situation. As a player takes in the pitch with his vision, they make quick, darting glances at different targets – just like an alert goalkeeper should be.
With Guzan, Howard and Friedel all participating in these sports in the US, it shows that it helps to produce a strong caliber of goalkeeper and could suggest that this is where Premier League clubs should be looking to find their next young keeper.
Will we soon see more American faces in England?
image: © wonker