The Journey of Brian McBride
There are few players in Major League Soccer that have experienced
decorated careers at the magnitude at which Fire striker Brian McBride has. A
veteran of three World Cups and 95 international caps, the Arlington Heights
native has blazed soccer trails both in the United States and Europe,
establishing a better reputation for the American player abroad through his
athleticism, work ethic and nose for goal.
A college standout at Saint Louis University, McBride
spent a year with USISL side, Milwaukee Rampage in 1994 before signing with VfL
Wolfsburg in the German Second Division that fall. Though a good experience,
McBride played scarcely that season and eventually returned Stateside to take
part in Major League Soccer's inaugural season with the Columbus Crew. It was
in Columbus where the striker's career began to take off, eventually becoming
the club's all-time leading scorer and going from spot U.S. national team
player to first choice starter.
As another World
Cup approaches, there are few Americans more qualified to speak of success at
the world's biggest sporting spectacle. The only American to score in two
separate tournaments, he spoke about the prospects of the U.S. team when they
open their sixth consecutive World Cup on June 12 vs. England in Rustenberg,
"This is an exciting time for U.S. Soccer,"
said the retired American international. "The players have been well
prepared through the cycle and have had some wonderful results like last year's
Confederation's Cup. The injury bug hit the team a bit over the last few
months, but guys seem to be gaining health - they'll be anxious and given their
first opponent they should be. As a player, you build up in your mind games
like the one against England and I'm excited for the guys. "
Though McBride retired from senior international play
following the United States' exit from the 2006 World Cup, he remains familiar
with the squad - even it's younger players such as Jozy Altidore and Michael
Bradley, whom he suited up with as he briefly came out of international
retirement for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Just five appearances away from reaching the senior
century mark, McBride didn't have to think twice about either retirement or his
brief return for the Olympics following that decision.
"The most important thing for me isn't numbers - it
never has been. I've had the good fortune to do something I love while building
a family and getting to see the world. The opportunity to go to the Olympics
came up and it was a great experience, but I haven't had any thoughts about
going back to the national team. Bob's put together a strong team and I'm
excited to see them represent us in South Africa."
While two of his three World Cups ended in
disappointment, the target man's best international memories come from his time
at the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan. Expected by many to go
three-and-out, the team rose above expectation early in the tournament,
defeating group favorites Portugal 3-2, with McBride scoring the winning
goal. After needing help from their
Korean hosts to advance from the group stage, McBride scored another winner -
this time against Mexico in the United States' 2-0 "Round of 16"
victory - propelling the Americans to their first ever quarterfinal appearance,
where they fell 1-0 in controversy to Germany.
"There were good performances in that tournament and
a number of things went our way as well. Overall it was one of my proudest
moments as a player."
Stay tuned to chicago-fire.com tomorrow to read part two of this story; where McBride talks about his time in Europe, specifically the great escapes of 2007 and 2008 with Fulham FC.