Tuesday, October 19, 2010
A Look At What Made Brian McBride 'THE American Striker'
As Brian McBride retires from the game, we have to take a look back at what made him the most accomplished striker in US national team history.
It doesn't get more All-American than Brian McBride.
He grew up in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights and played for Buffalo Grove High School. He played four years at Saint Louis University (and graduated), the home of American soccer during the dark days of the 1960s, and was the first pick in the inaugural MLS draft.
There was no foreign upbringing, no foreign club, to instill him with that Olde World soccer sense. Yet somehow, he was able to score goals. Lots of them. At every level. From Columbus and West London to Lyon, Suwon and Jeonju, McBride beat goalkeepers with unprecedented consistency for a Yank.
He fought through a bizarre array of injuries (this Chicago Tribune article has some good details) to become the first American to score in two World Cups and a hero on both sides of the Atlantic. On Saturday he'll play his final home game with the Chicago Fire, which he joined in 2008, before finishing out his illustrious career on Oct. 23 at Chivas USA.
Thirty goals for the U.S. national team, 44 in the English Premier League with Fulham and Everton and 79 in MLS with the Crew and Fire: The numbers are an indication of McBride's goal mouth mastery, and destroy any notion that Americans fundamentally lack the savvy, dedication or technique to score regularly at the pro and international level.
That's been the concern since this summer's World Cup. McBride's goal against Mexico in 2002 marked the last World Cup tally by an American striker. There have been eight scoreless games (for forwards) since. The national team's current go-to front runner, Jozy Altidore, has managed just three goals in 2010 for club or country. The competition for a second spot is so flimsy that U.S. coach Bob Bradley is experimenting with one-striker formations (more on that, with comments from Altidore and Bradley, coming soon at FanHouse).
So when the Fire made McBride available for questions on Friday afternoon, FanHouse jumped at the chance to ask the best striker in American history why he's the legendary exception rather than the rule.
Ever humble -- "He always was for the team first and never was an attention-grabbing player. That's something you don't often get from forwards," former national team captain Claudio Reyna said -- McBride said a forward's development was about hard work and proper training technique, and not any innate qualities that Americans don't possess.
"It's a lot of the confidence side of things. A lot of repetition," he said.
"Trainings are pretty short in Europe. So you get done with training after an hour and 10 minutes, you feel fresh and you feel you need to do something more. Players stick around for half an hour and just do finishing. Those repetitions, putting yourself in those postions, are something players around the U.S. can do more.
"One of the biggest differences that I saw when I went over there, 95 percent of the finishing drills we did were all inside the (penalty) box. When I was here, 90 percent of the finishing drills were outside th box. Otherwise the goalies were freaking out, going crazy," he continued. "That's not realistic. Putting things in perspective as far as the game situations, that's what players need to be put in."
McBride wants to play a role in changing the way forwards are trained in this country. He said on Friday that he has a "rough plan for doing some of the things...that are sort of lacking with MLS, with academy or camp-type stuff, where I provide that sort of knowledge. Not only the technical side, but the tactical side, the physical side of what an attacking player needs."
Posted by Mike Jacobs at 7:31 AM