Prior to Saturday night’s match against D.C. United, the last time Fire forward Brian McBride came off the bench was August 16, 2008. That was McBride’s first game with the Fire, and he came on as a halftime substitute.
Since then, McBride has played in 45 games with Chicago, 44 of them as a starter. Last week was the lone exception, as McBride came off the bench in the 75th minute only to notch an assist and goal in the Fire’s 2-0 road victory over D.C.
“I will do whatever for this team,” McBride said after practice on Tuesday. “I’m not bigger than anyone. The whole group is one and I think it’s important that we’re all together so I’m not going to have a problem with whatever the coach wants me to do. I know what I can do and [I] believe in myself, but you’re not going to get any problems from me or any controversial statement. I’m a player and I need to be a part of this team.”
Part of the reason for McBride’s benching was the Fire’s switch from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-5-1 set up. Head coach Carlos de los Cobos chose to start Collins John as the lone forward instead, but was quick to defray any hint of a problem with his resident superstar.
“[McBride] is very professional,” de los Cobos said. “I speak with him before the match and he understands. He’s a very disciplined player. He shows this when he goes into the match. He makes a big difference. When he is on the field he creates opportunities and ... his presence was very good for the team.”
De los Cobos said that he didn’t yet know whether or not he would start McBride in this weekend’s match against Houston. Either way, it’s fair to expect McBride to begin a few more games on the bench this year.
De los Cobos has said that he prefers a 4-1-4-1 and McBride doesn’t appear at this point to be the automatic first-choice at striker. Given his 37-year-old legs, the occasional rest might not be such a bad thing.