Brad Friedel, the U.S. national team goalkeeper, has signed with MLS and will play for the Columbus Crew for the rest of the 1996 season.
The Crew and the Dallas Burn made an eleventh-hour trade that enabled Columbus to acquire Friedel. Dallas sold Washington Rodriguez (whose groin injury likely would have kept him out for the rest of the season) back to his Uruguayan club, Liverpool FC. Since Rodriguez was an allocated player, Dallas was due to receive a replacement allocation. However, the Burn traded this potential allocation to Columbus for the Crew's first-round pick in the 1997 MLS draft and former national team forward Dante Washington.
Friedel, who is on loan from Galatasaray of the Turkish first division until January, then signed with MLS and was assigned to Columbus. He is expected to make his debut Saturday night when Columbus hosts D.C. United.
"I'm very happy to be coming back home to be able to help Columbus make a run for the playoffs," said the former UCLA All-American. "By more and more American players coming back home, we can help the league reach the level it deserves in the world of football. And with the heavy World Cup qualification schedule coming up for the U.S. national team, I thought it was time to dedicate myself to not only helping MLS grow, but also in helping the USA reach the World Cup finals in 1998."
Friedel had a very successful season with Galatasaray last year, leading the club to the Turkish Cup title by shutting out rival Fenerbahce in the final.
"While it may not excite some of the forwards in the league, we are very happy to have a player of Brad's caliber in Major League Soccer," said MLS deputy commissioner Sunil Gulati. "He is not only one of the best American goalkeepers ever, but he is truly a world-class player at his position and we are extremely appreciative of the efforts and cooperation of the board of directors at Galatasaray in making this happen."
Dallas, meanwhile, picks up a quality forward in Washington, and an extra first-round pick.
"We look at this as a great deal," said Dallas GM Billy Hicks. "Rodriguez had been looking for a better offer for most of the season... We were faced with losing [him] anyway, and feel very fortunate to have been able to parlay the situation into acquiring what will be a very high draft choice and an exciting, speedy prospect in Dante."