The notion of playing professional soccer until age 38 hardly seemed plausible to Brian McBride.
“Someone asked me how long I was thinking of playing when I was 30 and I said that 35 would be awesome,” said McBride, who is retiring from Major League Soccer at the end of the season. “To make it this long has been a good surprise.”
After training with the Chicago Fire ahead of his final home game, Saturday against visiting D.C. United, McBride chatted with reporters via conference call Friday. McBride was a charter member of M.L.S. and was the first player selected over all, by the Columbus Crew, as the new league prepared for its first season in 1996.
After several seasons in M.L.S. and a couple of loans to English teams (Preston North End and Everton), McBride landed a full-time gig with Fulham, in London and in the Premier League. He became the rarest of Americans abroad — a bona fide threat at striker to score goals. That was unlike so many of his compatriots who jumped the Atlantic, mostly goalkeepers and defensive role players.
“I think a lot has changed and that the stigma that goes with being and an American,” he said. “With soccer being so worldly, you go in and show what you can do and you’ll get respect. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. There were plenty of times at Fulham where I was not as sharp as I needed to be, but it’s a matter of staying focused. It wasn’t a not a revelation, as you said, but just putting work in and doing things right so your teammates respect you.”
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