Galaxy talk McBride
Brian McBride has touched a lot of people over the years
through his play on the field and his character off of it. As the legendary
American striker announced his retirement Friday at Toyota Park, it seemed
fitting to have the Los Angeles Galaxy in town, with their roster full of
players and coaches that have had the opportunity to play next to or manage the
target striker throughout his decorated 16-year professional career.
The Galaxy bill the likes of some of U.S. Soccer’s past and
present stalwarts – names like Donovan, Arena, Jones, Lewis, and Buddle – all
who were gracious in giving their memories and thoughts on the legacy McBride
will leave when he hangs up his boots at the end of the year.
“He’s a person that we all admire on the field and off,” said
former U.S. National Team and current Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “He’s had
a fabulous career as a player and he’s been great away from the field in every
team he’s been involved with. Brian’s the true definition of a team player
although obviously his individual play speaks for itself. He was truly a great
leader and a guy that always put his team first.”
McBride was perhaps the most impactful player to play under
Arena during his eight-year stint in charge of the national team. Their careers
sort of rose together as the former D.C. United boss took the job following the
United States’ embarrassing exit from the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.
Seventy-two of McBride’s 95 national team caps and 24 of his
30 goals came during Arena’s tenure. He was the leading scorer at the 2002
CONCACAF Gold Cup, helping the Americans win the tournament for the first time
since 1991 and showing a sign of things to come as he helped the U.S. to the
quarterfinals of that year’s World Cup in South Korea, scoring the winning
goals in victories over Portugal and Mexico.
Having written the book as the quintessential American
target forward, McBride created a role that no American forward since has truly
been able to fill.
“He was unique in that he was a box player,” continued Arena.
“He was a guy on the U.S. team that every team will always have to defend. He’s
an absolute warrior – someone you’d always want leading the line for your team.
My fondest memories of him are the great goal he scored against Portugal in
2002 and also the effort he put in against Italy in 2006 where he was injured
in the first half, took stitches at half time and just had a courageous
performance in helping us attain a point against the eventual World Champions.
Brian did whatever was necessary for his team to succeed and that’s how I’ll
always remember him.”
Having played 164 times for the U.S. Men’s National Team,
current LA Galaxy assistant coach Cobi Jones appeared 54 times with McBride at
the international level. Almost 10 years ago to the day, September 3, 2000, the
two linked up for the winning goal in the American’s crucial 1-0 win over
Guatemala in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, while the U.S. was playing a man
down. Jones crossed from the right-side of the 18 to an open McBride, who
sacrificed his left leg as goalkeeper Edgar Estrada sprawled on top of him. That
result helped propel the U.S. into the final round of World Cup qualifying
after struggling during the team’s first two matches.
It was plays such as that which separated McBride from other
strikers according to Jones.
“Brian’s ability as a target player in the air and on the
field were remarkable,” said the all-time U.S. appearance leader. “He was able
to hold up the ball regardless of who was marking him and was able to get to
crosses regardless of who was in the back. That’s something that was lacking in
the past in U.S. Soccer. He was also a true pioneer for Americans going
overseas, first to Germany then really making a name for himself in England
during his loans with Preston and Everton before signing with Fulham. He’s a
quality athlete and a good person overall – someone with a lot of character. I
think that’s something a lot of people will say about him.”
Click here for part two of this story