MIAMI, Feb. 7 -- After three World Cups, two Olympics and 12 years of service to the U.S. national team, goalkeeper Brad Friedel announced his retirement from international competition Monday.
Friedel, 33, will continue to play for Blackburn in the prestigious English Premier League, but those days of shuttling across the Atlantic to represent his country are over.
_____World Cup Qualifier_____
Who: United States at Trinidad and Tobago.
When: Tomorrow, 2:30 p.m.
Where: Queens Park Oval, Port of Spain.
"I have loved every minute of it, but feel now is the right time to end my international career," he said in a prepared statement. "Throughout my career I have been extremely lucky not to have suffered any major injuries. However, over the last 18 months or so I have sometimes been left feeling short of full fitness because of the strain of playing for my club and my country and the huge amount of long-haul travel involved.
"The English Premier League is incredibly demanding and over the remaining years of my professional career I want to give myself the best possible chance to continue to play at the highest level for my club."
Friedel was the U.S. team's back-up keeper at the 1994 and '98 World Cups before earning the starting job at the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan. He became the first goalie since 1974 to stop two penalty kicks in regulation play, helping the United States advance to the quarterfinals. He also was the U.S. starter at the 1992 and 2000 Olympic Games.
"We'll miss him," U.S. veteran forward Brian McBride said, "but that's one position, thankfully, we have a lot of depth. . . . It's sad to see him go because he was such a great player for so long."
Friedel had made only one U.S. appearance since the 2002 World Cup -- a 1-0 victory at Poland early last year. Veteran Kasey Keller -- the 1998 starter and Friedel's back-up in 2002 who now plays professionally in Germany -- and Manchester United's Tim Howard have emerged as the top choices in World Cup qualifying.
Keller, who started seven of eight qualifiers last year, is expected to get the call Wednesday at Trinidad and Tobago, where the Americans will begin the final round of regional qualifying for the World Cup. England-based Marcus Hahnemann and the Colorado Rapids' Joe Cannon are the reserves, with Howard expected to contribute in future qualifiers.
"If [Friedel] feels he's done all he wants on the international level, he's toward the end of his career, he wants to spend more time with his family, his [soccer academy] business and his club, I think it's an appropriate decision," U.S. Coach Bruce Arena said. "We discussed it a few times. I told him to think about it. He feels very comfortable about it. . . . He had a pretty complete career."
Notes: Midfielder Landon Donovan is in U.S. training camp for the first time since joining German power Bayer Leverkusen last month following four standout years with Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes. He has played in three Bundesliga matches, all as a reserve, including the final 17 minutes of a 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich on Saturday.
"It's been good, getting better. It's totally and completely different than playing here," Donovan said following an 11-hour journey that took him from Cologne, Germany, to London to Miami late Saturday. "There is clearly respect [for me] there. When I was there before [as a teenager], I didn't feel that respect. I don't know if it's because of the World Cup or if it's because more Americans are succeeding now, but there's an instant respect, which is good."
With U.S. captain Claudio Reyna sidelined with a leg injury, Donovan will have playmaking responsibilities against Trinidad and Tobago. . . .
In its final tuneup before facing the favored Americans, Trinidad and Tobago lost to visiting Haiti, 1-0, on Sunday. Former Manchester United star Dwight Yorke returned to the team after sitting out most of the last four years, but his foul led to Haiti's penalty kick in the first half. . . .
Richmond Kickers midfielder Clyde Simms, the only minor league replacement player retained to compete in full U.S. training camp in California following the resolution of the labor dispute between the players' union and management, is being pursued by D.C. United, two sources close to the situation said. Simms, 22, caught Arena's eye at camp last month but wasn't retained this week. . . . Defender Eddie Pope returned to U.S. practice Monday after sitting out with an illness Sunday. . . . Trinidadian President George Maxwell Richards and Prime Minister Patrick Manning announced they would attend Wednesday's match in Port of Spain.