U.S. Men's National Team

Morning Ticker: Friedel inks new deal, Chivas USA lands Wicky and other news


Good morning all. There have been a bunch of news nuggets in MLS and American soccer and SBI hasn’t been able to get to all of them, so here is a rundown of some of the better tidbits to emerge in recent days:

Friedel signs extension– Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel will have a little more time to hone that British accent. The former U.S. national team star has signed a contract extension that will keep him at Blackburn through the 2009/2010 season. At that rate, Friedel would leave England at age 38. Yes Crew fans, you can start the countdown now.

Pickens joins QPR. My boy Luis Arroyave reported on Monday that former Chicago Fire goalkeeper Matt Pickens has signed with English First Division club Queens Park Rangers. The move was a case of one keeper’s misfortune turning into another’s opportunitity. Queens Park Rangers had lined up a bid for Jamaican international goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts but Ricketts was denied a work permit. Wondering how Pickens secured a work permit? More on that later today.

U.S. to play qualifier at Home Depot Center. The U.S. national team will play its first World Cup qualifier this year at Home Depot Center in Carson, California on June 15 against the winner of the Barbados/Dominica series. The Americans will face the Barbados/Dominica winner in a home-and-home series, with the winner set to play in a group that should include Cuba, Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago.

Babayaro trains with LA. The long-rumored Celestine Babayaro to LA move is a done deal and the only thing holding up a formal announcement is Babayaro receiving his work permit. The former Newcastle defender trained with the Galaxy on Monday. There’s no word on just how much he will make.

Chivas USA signs Wicky. Chivas USA landed veteran Swiss midfielder Raphael Wicky, a World Cup veteran with 70 appearances for Switzerland. Capable of playing in central midfield and on the left flank, Wicky joins Alecko Eskandarian and Jim Curtin among the Goats’ off-season acquisitions.

Crew eyeing Ricken. The Columbus Dispatch’s Shawn Mitchell reported that German World Cup veteran Lars Ricken is set to join Columbus in pre-season training in Florida.

  • Matt Mathai

    Love the snarky comment about the accent. It’s true, Friedel has about the worst adopted English accent I’ve heard. It’s clearly in a transitional phase, so a contract extension is really the best thing for everyone.


  • Ed Ho

    This all looks like good news. Nice to see Friedel still considered a class keeper by a top half EPL side. And, MLS adding some depth never hurts – although the Lars Ricken situation may not work out well IMO, if he is already semi-retired, will the effort be there?

    BTW – anyone have more detail on where Babayaro is currently playing? I’m assuming he’s not currently on Newcastle’s roster.


  • Vladimir

    Anybody else have a lot of trouble getting to the Columbus Dispatch Crew blog? About 4 of every 5 times I go to it their “server is taking too long to respond.”


  • Ossington Mental Youth

    Wicky is a great grab for Chivas and is defo going to contribute to the midfield.

    Lars Ricken…not so much.
    Ah Columbus…


  • Tony in Quakeland

    The UK’s work permit process is broken. Any combination of circumstances that gives Pickens a permit and denies one to Guzan is plain silly. It’s an empty political gesture appealing to a xenophobic instinct to protect “the English game.” The braying of morons.


  • Brims

    There has to be more out there than Lars Ricken! Unless they pull off a big surprise signing it’s going to be a long year for us Columbus fans.


  • Haig

    Rumor is that Pickens’ wife is French, qualifying him for a passport from an EU country and circumventing the whole UK work permit issue.

    If anything, it’s Guzan’s fault for not marrying a European national. He knows the rules, so don’t whine about it.


  • Landis

    I heard that Pickens can qualify for a UK work permit because he is a college graduate.

    I went on internship in England while working on my Master’s here in the US and it took 2 months to get the work permit sorted. It sucked, and it wasn’t as big a deal for me as it is for their careers.


  • GC

    Not trying to scoop Ives but I heard the Pickens situation involves in some way the fact that he has a college degree.


  • doug

    I think Ricken would be a steal. His biggest issue has always been injury, and whether or not his knees will hold up. But before injury set in, he was in the mold of a Bastian Schweinsteiger. Could play all across midfield and up top if necessary. Sigi once again has worked the German contacts


  • kpugs

    It doesn’t matter how much Celestine Babayaro will make. If it puts L.A. over the cap, the league will simply raise L.A.’s individual salary cap. Done and done. Yippee!


  • Dominghosa

    EdHo, Friedel is considered an elite goalkeeper by almost every club, one would think.


  • Steve the Arsonist

    Pickens can score an English work permit because he recently married his French girlfriend and so has access to EU passport benefits through the wife.
    Bummer for the Fire-Good Luck Slim.


  • Steve the Arsonist

    Pickens can score an English work permit because he recently married his French girlfriend and so has access to EU passport benefits through the wife.
    I think that’s what Ives is referring to in the “More on that later today.” line. (Sorry Ives, the kids wanted to know now.)
    Bummer for the Fire-Good Luck Slim.


  • Tony in Quakeland

    Guys: Regardless of the mechanism whereby Pickens gets a permit, the point remains the same: a system that grants access to Pickens and denies the clearly far superior Guzan is ridiculous. It hurts the quality of the game in the UK, and indirectly hurts English players by reducing the level of competition they face. It shows the whole process to be a ridiculous joke.


  • chesterton chris

    It’s funny how people think national labor laws of a country only revolve around soccer. laws are in place mostly for the thousands of foreign workers that come into a country. soccer covers the hundreds. So, if a guy can get a passport because his wife is a foreign national, it would be the same if an american brought his french wife over and got her a green card so she could be employed long term.

    Guzan lost out because of the law. Pickens won out because of the law. The law doesn’t care if Guzan is better. The law cares that he doesn’t meet the requirements for employment. Now, if he were a computer engineer in a needed field in UK….so, Guzan should have gotten a bs in cs so he could work on the aston villa web page🙂 and play goal.


  • Mr. Conflict if Interest

    Ives, why don’t you look into who Wicky’s agent is and why he was allowed to be an asst coach at the combines…


  • Tony in Quakeland

    The law in this case provides for an appeal process where subjective criteria are applied.

    That aside, the law is also full of exceptions. Countries provide artistic visas, for example, all the time because the general culture of the nation benefits by people bringing their work and vision.

    If you don’t think there is an enormous political component, filled with typical English xenophobia, when it comes to soccer visas and the decisions of the appeal process, then you are being naive.


  • Peruco83

    how could they deny Donovan Ricketts a permit is he has already played in England and has played a lot of games for the Jamaican NT?


  • Bonk

    Thank you CC. The work permit laws, for the millionth time, are national laws, not English soccer rules. And there is ZERO evidence that the supposed college loophole actually exists. I’ll believe it when I see someone use it and say “that’s how I got here.”


  • jman81

    Tony, your logic doesn’t add up to me. As was said, Pickens got the work permit via his spouse, so the FA had nothing to do with his ability to make the jump as I understand. NONE. Now, you mention that exceptions can be made, and claim that Guzan should have been one of those exceptions. Why? I love Guzan’s potential, but at this rate, in the soccer world, he is an unknown name. If ricketts, who is much more known, didn’t get in through appeal, what case can you make for Guzan? Plus, your damning the same appeal process that let Dempsey in, aren’t you? Dempsey didn’t meet all of the requirements needed to get a work permit, and his case was appealed, which was later accepted.


  • aristotle


    I heard that Pickens’ work permit was granted because he regularly watches British TV shows.

    Why is it that people are stating that the law is the law, and that there is no bias or politics involved when getting a work permit on one hand, and then on the other hand talking about the very vague and seemingly nonsensical process by which an “exception” is made. Also, if it’s just the law, why does the appeal work so much when nothing changes?

    Celestine Babyaro was formerly a cartoon character before signing with the LA Galaxy. I love that name! Doesn’t it sound like an old time cartoon character? Remember that episode of Yogi Bear and Babayaro stealing a picnic basket?

    Alright, alright! I’m just kidding. In answer to the question asked about who he last played for, the answer is Newcastle. What seems kind of disturbing is that he is injury prone and less than two months ago was released by mutual agreement from his contract because of this problem. Is he now magically better, or are the Galaxy just looking for another big name player? Obviously him and Ruud Gullit know each other from when they were together at Chelsea.


  • Jeffrey

    Pickens got the work permit because his great, great, great, great Grandfather Charles Pickens was a famous British author.


  • Tony in Quakeland


    The process is ridiculous. It sets an arbitrary criteria (75% of national team games, which can let in the best defensive mid for the Faeroe Islands, but possibly exclude the third best striker for Argentina.) Next, it opens up an appeal process that then makes a SUBJECTIVE judgement about the players talent.

    So my points are two:

    First, people here saying “it’s the law” and claiming it is an objective process are ignoring the extremely subjective appeals process. Simply put, the existence of the appeal process and its qualitative criteria undercuts the “it’s the law” stance a few people took here. It’s not. Your Dempsey example illustrates my point – the subjective judgement of the appeal went Dempsey’s way here, but against Guzan this time. Why? Because it’s a subjective call.

    Point two: look at the end result. Put aside the stated criteria. The end result is that a far better goalkeeper was excluded than the one who was permitted. Yes, Pickens benefited from a loophole. But the end result is that the game in England lost out on quality. If a protectionist mechanism actually lessens the quality of the product on the field, I think you can say it’s not working.


  • papa bear

    if Rickens stays healthy and motivated (the second shouldn’t be a problem) Columbus has a hell of a player and he’s not that old. He’s only 31.


  • Joseph D'Hippolito

    Aristotle, the Gals are desperate for experienced defenders. Remember, they not only traded away Marshall, Dunivant, Albright and Ihemelu (one of the better backlines in the league, btw) but also forced a career midfielder (Klein) into the right-back spot late in his career and signed a player just coming off an 18-month suspension for steroid use! (Xavier)

    The people running the Gals (Leiweke, Lalas, Bravo, Gullit) are idiots. They’ve committed half of their salary cap to three players! I don’t buy this nonsense that all the MLS has to do is raise the salary cap to please the Gals. Chivas USA was $1 million under the cap and fields an MLS Cup contender. Houston and New England are under the cap and field contenders. The Gals are just congenital idiots. Their front-office should compete in the Special Olympics.


  • aristotle


    I couldn’t agree more. I could not believe that blame was being piled on Yallop for so many problems. I was surprised at some of the poor decisions made by Yallop while he was with the Galaxy, but considering his track record when he was not in that nut house, I think it was more the environment and front office that caused his so called bad decisions. Like the ridiculous pressure to play Beckham when he wasn’t ready which ruined the whole season. The real problems lie with the jokers in the front office. I am absolutely astonished at how many teams Alexi Lalas is trashing and still getting hired. The funny thing is I thought Lalas was the best soccer personality in American soccer when he did his brief show for MLS. Here we are desperate for good American soccer TV personalities, and he’s wasting that talent to be the village idiot of front office soccer management! He needs to be true to himself. He is not a shirt. He’s a soccer rock and roll guy.

    Maybe when Babayaro provides company for Beckham on the bench while their both injured again this season, someone will finally clear out the Galaxy’s front office!


  • Miguel

    Congrats Ives,

    Yesterday, Fox Soccer Report mentioned your site breaking the Pickens to QPR news.


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