Brian McBride
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McBride By The Numbers

Brian McBride has always said he’s not a numbers guy.  How do I know this?  U.S. National Team nerd that I am, I’ve asked him a number of times why he didn’t just play five more games for his country so he could join the record number of American players that have reached the 100 cap plateau.

He’s always had the same answer and in short its something like, “Numbers don’t matter to me”.

So the fact that he’s appeared in 569 professional club and international matches isn’t a big deal. Nor are the 183 goals he’s scored while playing club ball in three different countries and five different leagues or the 30 tallies he’s added for the U.S. against 18 different nations.

While we’re on that subject, which country does Brian scoring against the most? El Salvador. At seven, nearly one-third of his 30 international goals have come against the Salvadoran national team, with the highlight being his lone international hat trick, scoring three goals inside the first 21 minutes of the U.S. 4-0 victory over El Salvador in the 2002 Gold Cup Quarterfinals. That performance boosted him to the tournament’s Golden Boot.

Now as long as I talk about the national team, it’s important to hit on some other numbers. While Brian didn’t add to the record total of 11 Americans that hit 100 international appearances, he does have one distinction. Though third on the All-Time U.S. goal scoring list he’s the only American to hit 30 international goals without playing in 100+ games. The first American to score in multiple World Cups, McBride’s feat was equaled earlier this year by Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.

Another chapter to Brian’s prolific statistical portfolio is his time in England. Two loan stints, first to Preston North End and then to Everton during the 2001 and 2002 MLS offseasons set up his eventual move to Fulham in January 2003. It was at Craven Cottage where Brian really raised the profile of the American player, scoring 41 goals in 151 appearances across all competitions for the for the West London side.

McBride’s team-leading 12 goals helped keep the club from being relegated in the 2006-07 season, something the club’s fans have come to call the “First Great Escape”.  After a horrible knee injury, which came from scoring a goal at the beginning of the following season, McBride returned to the Fulham lineup, hitting the back of the net three times  eventually keeping the Whites up in the “Second Great Escape” from relegation.

 This all led to McBride’s return to the United States with the Fire. While he’s done well in Red, scoring 20 goals in 71 matches, it will pain any Fire fan to admit most of his MLS success came during his years in Columbus.

In 196 all competitions appearances, McBride scored 79 goals in Crew yellow. Six years after leaving Columbus, he’s still the club’s all-time leading scorer in all competitions and is tied with Major League Soccer’s all-time leading scorer Jeff Cunningham for the club’s regular season record at 62.

Considering he was often called away for U.S. National Team duty or dealing with whatever injury – McBride’s goal total with the Crew surely would be much higher.

Had he not gone to England and instead been a Major League Soccer “lifer” he’d likely today be contending with his former teammate Cunningham and Saturday’s opposing striker, DC United Jaime Moreno for most goals in Major League Soccer with 132.

Instead, his time abroad helped raise not only the profile of the American player, but the bar for those that come after him to strive for. 

Sitting on 79 all-time MLS regular season goals, a number that doesn’t even put him in the league’s top 10, here’s hoping he hits 80 Saturday afternoon as he marks his final home match at Toyota Park.

Of course we know whether he had 80 or 133 today, the number would be meaningless to Brian.

Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.