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The Beautiful Game According to McBride

A player like Brian McBride comes around once in a lifetime.  The prolific striker got the job done in every situation at every level, whether it was winning games for the Columbus Crew, scoring goals for the U.S. Men’s National Team or playing with England’s best at Fulham.

Photo Credit: Allstate/Taylor Strategy

Allstate, one of the nation’s leading supporters of American soccer, has wisely teamed up with McBride to help promote awareness for the beautiful game.  It’s such an important time, being a World Cup year and a period of unprecedented growth at all levels of the sport.

He praised the work of the insurance giant and other corporate sponsors as being a major part of the sport’s growth, providing funding for infrastructure and programs as well as exposing new people to the game.

Allstate’s Good Hands FC event, known for doing good all across the country, was rolled out to help California youth players, this time with McBride running drills, answering questions, and most importantly sharing his love of the game.   Every player left with new gear and tickets, something that was much-needed and greatly appreciated.

McBride was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk with us about the national team, the Columbus Crew, and the future of the American game.

One of the most deadly finishers in national team history (third highest all-time to be exact), McBride shared his excitement for this weekend’s match.

Photo Credit: Allstate/Taylor Strategy

He stated that he was looking forward to seeing what ideas the team has formed after a month of training. As a former player, he knows they are looking forward to playing in a competitive match in front of fans here in the States.  He also mentioned that this weekend’s match is a good opportunity for players that might not have gotten a chance to impress Klinsmann.

When asked about a prediction of the score vs. Korea, McBride confidently said, “The U.S. will win.”

He was also very realistic about the challenges facing the USMNT at the World Cup.

“It was made more difficult because of the group.  The first game is the all- important one.  We need a result.”

He was quick to praise the positive work of the national team players and staff, saying that there were lots of positives headed into the World Cup.  He pointed out that the team is more dynamic than 2o10 and that their versatility could prove to be problematic for opposing sides.

He was optimistic about the performances of Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, and Tim Howard.  He believes that Altidore has added another dimension to his game despite struggling at top-flight Sunderland.

The growth of MLS was another hot topic of discussion.  McBride admitted that tremendous growth has occurred and finally MLS is buying American players back to play in the States.

“You don’t have to go overseas anymore.  Every individual has to make that personal decision.  They will certainly be challenged over there, but they now have options.”

Keeping talented players here at home is always a positive development.

We couldn’t resist asking him about one of his former teams the Columbus Crew.  He admitted being friends with both former head coach Robert Warzycha and new coaches Gregg Berhalter and Josh Wolff.  He was one of the first to talk about the hard decisions that led to Robert leaving the club and how that is an unfortunate part of professional sports.  It shows the amount of respect McBride has for the game and a former teammate, a class act all the way around.

He praised the new coaching and technical staff as being very positive, thoughtful, and methodical.  He also was quick to describe the new ownership in terms of being committed, passionate, and having a desire to push the Crew to a new level.

“Columbus is a special place to play soccer. There are very few places like it in all of MLS.  They have a great opportunity to do something special there.”

We wrapped up our discussion with his thoughts on improving the American game as a whole.  He talked about the improving the knowledge aspect of player development, having a “soccer brain” so to speak.

“Soccer is a team sport.  It’s important to have awareness and understanding of what is happening around you.  Making the right decisions is 90% of the game.”

McBride also was supportive of academy systems throughout the U.S., saying he liked anything that “promoted the current virtues of the sport.”  He feels that programs must have the best interest of the game in mind.  Clubs that focus only on making money are losing the core objective.

It was a great opportunity for all of us here at ISN.  You don’t get to speak to an American soccer legend everyday.  Thanks to the people at Allstate, this has become a lot more commonplace and we are certainly thankful for that.

U.S. MNT Wins Hexagonal After Beating Jamaica 2-0

Photo Credit: Jeff Gossel/

The U.S. Men’s National Team utilized a second-half attacking surge to secure a 2-0 win against Jamaica that clinched the top spot in the Hexagonal for a third straight FIFA World Cup Qualifying cycle. The match was played in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,467 at Sporting Park.

The U.S. victory, combined with Costa Rica’s 1-0 loss to Honduras earlier in the evening, made the Americans’ spot atop the final CONCACAF qualifying group unassailable with one match left to play.

The U.S. sits atop the group with 19 points (6-2-1), followed by Costa Rica (4-2-3, 15 points) and Honduras (4-3-2, 14 points). The USA and Costa Rica have qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and Honduras has assured itself at least a spot in a playoff against the Oceania region representative New Zealand.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gossel/

Midfielder Graham Zusi, who stars for Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City, and forward Jozy Altidore provided the scoring punch with goals in the 77th and 81st minutes, respectively. The victory provided the USA with a perfect 5-0-0 record in home qualifying games during this cycle. The USA out-scored its opposition 8-0 over the five matches.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard, who wore the captain’s armband, earned the his 33rd international clean sheet to move into sole possession of second place all-time ahead of National Soccer Hall of Famer Tony Meola.

The U.S. MNT will wrap up 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying on the road against Panama on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. The game kicks off at 9:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on beIN SPORT. Fans can also follow on’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer.

During the match, U.S. Soccer announced that the U.S. MNT would be playing Austria on Nov. 19 in Vienna. Further game details will be announced shortly. The USA will also face Scotland at the famed Hampden Park on Nov. 15 at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2, WatchESPN and UniMas.

After a subpar first half, the Americans turned up the heat in front of an appreciative crowd during the second half and finally broke through with 13 minutes left in the game. It was Zusi, a halftime substitute for Landon Donovan, who delighted his hometown fans, cutting a low shot into the lower left corner off an assist from Alejandro Bedoya.

Altidore sealed Jamaica’s fate with an 81st-minute goal, easily finishing a left-footed shot into a wide open net after Edgar Castillo calmly crossed the ball in from the left side with a rolling pass just above the six-yard box. Altidore’s 21stinternational goal moved him into a tie with Bruce Murray for sixth on the all-time MNT scoring list.

Jamaica’s best scoring threat actually came on the final shot of the game as Theo Robinson’s close-range blast from the right side was batted away by Howard to preserve the shutout. The USA has now posted 10 shutouts in 2013. Howard made five saves as he improved to 8-2-0 on the year with four shutouts.

Match Photos

On to the World Cup

Photo Credit: Kevin Cross/

As the clock ticked down and the World Cup qualifying match against Mexico came closer and closer to starting, the U.S. Men’s National Team fans were chanting three simple words.

“Dos a cero.”

Before the match the U.S. had beaten Mexico 2-0 in each of their past three matches at Crew Stadium.

After Tuesday night’s match, the “dos a cero” run stands at four.

A 49th minute goal from Eddie Johnson and a Landon Donovan score in the 79th gave the U.S. the 2-0 victory of their archrivals. A 1-0 victory by Honduras against Panama clinched a trip to Brazil for the U.S. for the World Cup.

Scoreless in the first half, Mexico dominated play, creating chance after chance and almost going ahead were it not for a few majestic saves from U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard.

As the teams trotted back into the locker rooms things were looking bleak for the Yanks, who were missing midfield general Michael Bradley to injury and forward Jozy Altidore to yellow card accumulation.

Four minutes after the restart, a corner kick delivered by Donovan was picked out by Johnson, who powered the ball into the back of the net to open the scoring.

Later in the half the Donovan was found by substitute Mix Diskerud right in front of goal and calmly played into the top corner to secure the victory for the home side.

Photo Credit: Kevin Cross/

Captain Clint Dempsey would step up to take a penalty in the 94th minute, but failed to convert on the opportunity.

The score line tells a different story than actually took place on the field, as for large stretches of the match Mexico was in control, particularly in the first half the U.S. was lacking a creative touch it had found over the summer during a 12-match winning streak.

Fabian Johnson started the match at right-back, but was substituted at halftime after sustaining a left knee sprain late in the half. Eddie Johnson also left midway through the second half after falling to the turf because of a collision with Dempsey.

The U.S.’s record all-time against Mexico in Columbus improves to 7-3-0 with the victory. It is also the seventh straight cycle that the U.S. has qualified for the World Cup.

Subside Sports Man of the Match: Landon Donovan and Tim Howard, USMNT

It is really impossible to decide between two of the stars for the U.S. on the night. In the first half Mexico created three or four chances that would have opened the scoring were it not for the Everton keeper. While Howard kept the team in the match by preventing goals, Donovan was the main push forward for the U.S., tallying an assist and a goal against El Tri. If the stars continue to play at this level the U.S. could challenge going ahead in the World Cup.

Match Photos

Allstate at the USA vs. Mexico Match

USMNT Falls to Costa Rica 3-1 in World Cup Qualifying

The U.S. Men’s National Team fell victim to a poor start, losing to Costa Rica 3-1 in its seventh World Cup qualifying match of the Hexagonal. The Americans went down 2-0 inside the first 10 minutes of the match.

The USA now needs a win against Mexico in its next World Cup qualifier on Sept. 10 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, combined with a Honduras win or draw at home against Panama to clinch a berth to the world’s biggest sporting event. The USA-Mexico game will be broadcast live on Tuesday on ESPN, WatchESPN and UniMas at 8 p.m. ET. Mexico lost to Honduras 2-1 at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City and is desperate for a result against the Jurgen Klinsmann’s team.

The USA will finish World Cup qualifying with matches on Oct. 11 against Jamaica at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas (5:30 p.m. CT on ESPN, WatchESPN and UniMas) and Oct. 15 against Panama at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, Panama (10 p.m. ET on beIN Sport).

The USA dropped to second place with 13 points behind leaders Costa Rica (14 points) and ahead of Honduras (10) and Mexico (8). Panama (7) and Jamaica (3) split the points in their meeting Friday night with a 0-0 draw.

The USA suffered an unusual setback before the game started when midfielder Michael Bradley suffered an ankle injury during warm-ups and was replaced in the starting lineup by Cameron.

Costa Rica scored just two minutes into the game, exactly as it did in its last home World Cup qualifier against the USA in 2009 (also a 3-1 win for the Ticos). The home team sent the sell-out crowd into frenzy after converting a corner kick.

Joel Campbell whipped in a cross and Johnny Acosta knifed through to win the ball with his head, beating Clint Dempsey to redirect his effort just inside the near post. The ball bounced off the head of DaMarcus Beasley, who tried to clear, but could not turn it out of the net.

Costa Rica doubled its lead on the cusp of nine minutes, and once again it came from a header. This time Cristian Bolaños ran onto a short pass down the left wing, cut back and lofted a high cross to the far post. Celso Borges, streaking from midfield, jumped high to out-muscle Beasley and powered his header back across the goal into the lower left corner.

After the poor start, the Americans settled down a bit as the half wore on and started taking back some of the possession.

The USA’s first quality scoring chance came in the 29th minute when Cameron ran onto a loose ball and with a hard touch took it into the left side of the penalty area before crossing into the middle. The pass was deflected by a defender and it skipped to Fabian Johnson, who blasted a first-time left-footed shot on frame that goalkeeper Keylor Navas saved only through pure reaction, throwing up his hands to somehow deflect the ball outside the left post.

Johnson was at the crux of the play that created the USA’s goal as he sprinted under a quickly taken free kick from Graham Zusi, who chipped a ball over the Costa Rica defense. Johnson did not get a piece of the ball as it skipped off the turf, but Navas certainly got a piece of him, scything the U.S. midfielder down at the top of the penalty area on a play that got a yellow card and perhaps deserved a red.

Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez immediately pointed to the spot and Dempsey stepped up to pull the USA to within one. The U.S. captain celebrated his 100 th match for his country with his eighth goal in this World Cup qualifying, blasting the ball almost straight up the middle but a shade to Navas’ right. Although the Costa Rican goalkeeper guessed correctly, the ball was struck with such pace that it ricocheted off his body and into the right side netting.

The USA pressed for an equalizer throughout the second half and Dempsey had a tremendous chance to tie the game in the 56th minute. After a Donovan cross from the left side found Dempsey, he lost a defender with a classic pull-back at the top of the penalty box and struck a left-footed shot that seemed to have Navas beaten but agonizingly clanged off the outside of the post.

Dempsey also had a chance in the 70th minute but did not quite get enough snap on his header from a Donovan cross, bouncing into the arms of Navas.

Riding a record five-game streak in which he has scored for the USA, forward Jozy Altidore entered the game in the 71st minute. Altidore had been bothered by a hamstring injury earlier in the week, but he did create some danger. Unfortunately, one of his most dangerous forays led to a counter-attack that sealed the game.

Just when it was looking like the USA could produce an equalizer, Altidore cut in powerfully from the left side and struck a shot that was blocked. Jose Miguel Cubero cleared the ball, and it turned out to be a perfect long pass over the top to Campbell, who was onside just in front of the midfield stripe. He took off toward the U.S. goal, outrunning and holding off Matt Besler. He took one touch before slipping the ball under the charging Howard and into the net from 15 yards out.

While holding the one-goal lead, the Costa Ricans defended with tremendous effort as they sat back to preserve the win, then got the goal off the counter-attack and salted away the two-goal victory, putting themselves in excellent position to qualify for their first World Cup since 2006.

The USA also saw three players shown yellow cards, which means all three – Cameron, Besler and Altidore – will be suspended for the Mexico game.

Allstate Helps Columbus Become Soccertown USA

Photo Credit: Brent Durken/

Our friends at Allstate are at it again, helping promote U.S. Soccer in yet another city. It is a familiar one for us, the great city of Columbus, Ohio.

Columbus is home to The Ohio State University, the Blue Jackets, Clippers, and of course the Crew.

Columbus will be the center of the soccer universe in less than two weeks. Why? The answer is simple: USA vs. Mexico in a crucial FIFA World Cup qualifier.

Allstate is going to make sure this game is extra special for fans.  They have a lot planned for the capital of Ohio, including a gameday event on Tuesday, September 10th from 4:00-8:00 pm ET. Fans and supporters of the beautiful game can head over to Crew Stadium Lot G to participate in some great activities like:

  • An autograph session with Tony Meola and Martin Zuniga
  • Poster-Making Station Area
  • “Dive for Charity” Photo Program
  • Sweepstakes Area

We love the “Dive for Charity” idea.  They dress you as a goalkeeper and you dive into a foam pit in front of a green screen. They create a cool image that you can share on your social handles and each dive will help benefit the U.S. Soccer Development Academy through a donation from Allstate. Innovative and charitable at the same time, something we would certainly expect from the great people at Allstate.

Photo Credit: Brent Durken/

There’s literally something for everyone.  You can enter a giveaway for ticket upgrades, jerseys, and balls. Everyone who enters the raffle will even get a free soccer-themed hat.  Be sure to stop over at the Allstate Fan Zone if you are heading out to the game.  It’s something you won’t want to miss.

That’s not all.  Allstate is planning one of their famous Good Hands FC events for Central Ohio during that week. And they provided us with TWO tickets to the sold out match as a giveaway to ISN readers.

How can you win? Head over to Twitter and tell us why Crew Stadium is such a great venue for USA vs. Mexico.  Use #ALLSTATETIX in your tweet to share your thoughts and ideas after following both @ISNOnline and @Allstate. We will choose a winner on Labor Day!

A big thank you goes out to Allstate for helping with this giveaway and for showing such great support for the game we all love.