After Clint Dempsey topped Brian McBride to become the American with highest lifetime Premier League goal total, Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel went on BBC World Service radio to sing his praises. And, in the process, decided to share his criticism of Landon Donovan and the way sponsorships and media exposure sometimes make star athletes more than their accomplishments.
Said Friedel (via the Sporting News):
"You get a player like a Landon Donovan, who in my opinion chose to take the easy road and stay in the States. It's much harder to ply your trade over here," Friedel told the BBC. "(The Premier League) is the best league in the world to play in, and this is where (Dempsey) got better in my opinion. This is where he became one of the best the United States ever produced."
"The profiling in the States sometimes is a lot more to do with sponsorships than what you actually do on the field," he said. "And listen, I'm not trying to take anything away from Landon because Landon has been absolutely magnificent for the U.S. as well. I'm just saying he gets a lot more notoriety because it's sponsorship-driven over there."
From the Washington Post:
"I did not mean to disparage or demean Landon Donovan or his accomplishments in any way, shape or form," Friedel said in a statement sent to the Insider on Friday. "I was merely paying respects to Clint Dempsey for his fantastic career. I apologize if my remarks offended anyone, especially Landon. It was not my motive. I would never bash a fellow American player."
Perhaps a little perturbed that Landon Donovan is seen as the face of American soccer when he feels that the guy quietly playing well in the Premier League should get more recognition for his accomplishments, Friedel went off on a logic and not unreasonable (yet a bit preachy) tangent. As someone who has also publicly criticized a teammate and then later changed his tune, I'm sure Landon will be willing to forgive Friedel for his comments.
Meanwhile, kind of getting lost in all this is the fact that Clint Dempsey is a good footballer who recently accomplished something worthy of praise.