Friedel studied at UCLA (where he was a NCAA champion in 1990 and won the Hermann Trophy in 1992) and has been contracted to Danish side Brøndby, Turkish team Galatasaray, the Columbus Crew of MLS, and Liverpool. At Liverpool he had a terrible time managing just over 30 games in almost three years. In 2000 he was signed to Blackburn Rovers by Graeme Souness on a free transfer after a work permit was secured. Due to his American nationality, Friedel had problems securing a work permit to play in England on several occasions; this caused a move to Newcastle to fall through in 1995. Friedel was the first choice goal keeper at Blackburn and was regarded as one of the best keepers in the league.
On February 21, 2004, Friedel scored a goal for Blackburn in the 89th minute to briefly tie Charlton Athletic in a league match. However, as Rovers celebrated, Claus Jensen put one in past Friedel to give Charlton a 3:2 victory.
Friedel is the second most-capped goalkeeper in U.S. national team history and gained his first international cap against Canada in 1992 in which he managed to keep a clean sheet. He was the first choice goal keeper for the U.S 1992 Olympic team; however, he was unable to beat out Tony Meola as first choice keeper for the U.S. team at the 1994 World Cup. However his chance came, and Friedel made his World Cup debut in France '98 where he conceded one goal as the U.S. lost to Yugoslavia. He lived up to his growing reputation in Korea and Japan as the U.S. went on a surprising run to the quarterfinals, which included a 3-2 defeat of Portugal in group play and a 2-0 second-round win over archrival Mexico before a loss to Germany (the eventual runner-up). He also became the first keeper to save two penalty kicks during regular play (as opposed to penalty shootouts) in a World Cup finals tournament since 1974. He was dubbed "The Human Wall" by fans during the spectacular 2002 World Cup run.
- Blackburn Rovers - 211 appearances (as of the end of 2004/05 season), one goal scored
- Liverpool - 31 appearances
- Columbus Crew - 38 appearances
- USA National Team - 82 appearances