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.
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.
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.