Brian McBride

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Burning question: How will the USMNT perform as World Cup hosts?

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We know the question is fraught with variables, but let’s consider this question during this dead period in world soccer: What should we expect from the United States men’s national team at the home World Cup.

The USMNT will presumably have a ninth World Cup under its belt when it joins Canada and Mexico in hosting the 2026 World Cup.

Expectations will be sky-high for the Yanks, eight years removed from failure to qualify for the 2018 tournament and 22 years after hosting the World Cup that would jumpstart soccer in this country.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

It’s wild to think about a 27-year-old Christian Pulisic leading the Yanks as presumed captain. Health-willing, the winger will be somewhere in the 80-cap range and potentially have a resume as decorated as any in history at his age.

Let’s begin by talking about who will be on the roster, considering we cannot know the identity of the coach or which players will explode onto the scene. Maybe Keegan Rosenberry or Donovan Pines get chances and grasp them. Maybe both disappear from the picture. Six years is a long time, so we’ll stick with the familiar.

Given the tremendous changes at the top of U.S. Soccer and a spirit amongst fans which has been downright venomous, it may be difficult to imagine Gregg Berhalter will still be at the helm unless his side has a remarkable tournament in Qatar, but it’s possible (For what it’s worth, Berhalter’s USMNT playing career happened alongside new USMNT general manager Brian McBride).

So let’s look at the class of players who are in the picture now and would also still be in their primes, assuming health.

Near certainties

We’re lending some leeway to Dest, Weah, and Reyna given their early and impressive starts to careers at elite European clubs, and a little bit to Steffen, too; Whether the Fortuna Dussseldorf loan man is the No. 1 is a conversation to be had, but his experience gives him a foothold as a member of the corps.

  • Pulisic, 27
  • Weston McKennie, 27
  • Tyler Adams, 27
  • Zack Steffen, 31
  • Giovanni Reyna, 23
  • Tim Weah, 26
  • Sergino Dest, 25

The wily vets: We know there will be late bloomers and those that play deep into their 30s — Gyasi Zardes may become the USMNT’s new Chris Wondolowski if he hasn’t already — but these five names are well-established now and well-liked by the hierarchy.

  • Jordan Morris, 31
  • John Brooks, 33
  • DeAndre Yedlin, 32
  • Walker Zimmerman, 33
  • Cristian Roldan, 31

Young, experienced, but with questions: It’s a touch harsh to have Sargent here, as recency bias is the challenge (He’s struggled of late but has a very strong resume at Werder Bremen and with the USMNT). He also will have to contend with a pool of very deep and young attackers.  Miazga and Horvath also possess the resume and acumen, but there are enough minor questions about playing time — getting it and keeping it — at the very top levels of Europe.

  • Josh Sargent, 26
  • Matt Miazga, 30
  • Ethan Horvath,  30

How will they fare with a step up? There’s nothing to dislike about this crew apart from where they are playing now. Cannon, Miles Robinson, and Yueill are in a strengthened MLS but that is still not a guarantee on the international stage. Antonee Robinson was denied a January move to AC Milan, and the Wigan Athletic man is going to get a big look from someone soon since he plays left back. Cannon and he will get a chance almost as soon as the transfer window opens again.

  • Reggie Cannon, 28
  • Antonee Robinson, 28
  • Miles Robinson, 29
  • Jackson Yueill, 29

Oh, we sure do hope so: Whether playing on second sides of German powers, dipping their toes in the Premier League like Aston Villa’s Indiana Vassilev, or in a sea of MLS or Eredivisie hopefuls, there are a ton of buoyant young players waiting for their turn on the stage.

We include older Cameron Carter-Vickers due to his loan experience in the Championship, and two names on here are the wildest of wild cards. Folarin Balogun is lighting up the PL2 for Arsenal but has repped England youth since playing for the Americans, while Konrad de la Fuente is training with Barcelona’s first team but there’s a looooong road from Barcelona B to first team playing time.

Even this list leaves off Brandon Servania, James Sands, Charlie Kellman, and a host of others with seemingly effervescent futures.

  • Chris Richards, 26
  • Indiana Vassilev, 25
  • Ulysses Llanez, 25
  • Jesus Ferreira, 25
  • Konrad de la Fuente, 24
  • Paxton Pomykal, 26
  • Cameron Carter-Vickers, 28
  • Richie Ledezma, 25
  • Chris Gloster, 25
  • Alex Mendez, 25
  • Mason Toye, 27
  • Sebastian Soto, 25
  • Folarin Balogun*, 24

So what does it mean?

Having already qualified and playing on home soil, the Yanks will be playing in an expanded field. Unless the nation experiences unparalleled drop-offs in form and development, the side will enter the tournament with high expectations at home.

A perceived group of death will no longer be met by “Well, maybe next time.” Questions will be more on defenders than anything else, although the U.S. men have yet to find the latest from the Tim Howard, Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller time line of elite backstops (Honorable mention to Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando).

Admitting that the exercise of, “What’s gonna happen in six years?” is rooting deeply in our current soccer landscape’s dormant state, we project the Yanks to be in the knockout rounds with a chance — however small or large — to get past whoever gets in their way.

U.S. Soccer names Brian McBride general manager of USMNT

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A familiar face is returning to the United States men’s national team fold.

Former United States international and Premier League striker Brian McBride has been named general manager, US Soccer announced on Friday.

The former Fulham captain fills the role that has been vacant since Earnie Stewart’s promotion to sporting director in August. The three-time World Cup veteran will report to Stewart, and will begin work as the general manger immediately. McBride is expected to join Gregg Berhalter and company in Bradenton, Florida, where a training camp is taking place.

“We are thrilled to have Brian McBride assume the role as general manager of the U.S. Men’s National Team,” Stewart said. “Through his impressive career as a three-time World Cup veteran and at clubs in England, Germany and the United States, he has earned the respect of his peers around the world. The hard-earned reputation will allow him to forge important relationships both internationally and here at home, and his understanding of the game and what it takes to succeed at the highest levels will be invaluable to our player pool and our staff.”

The 47-year-old will oversee the development and management of the player pool, build and lead the culture within the national team, and manage relationship with clubs.

“I am incredibly honored to once again represent the national team and the U.S. Soccer Federation,” McBride said. “It’s critically important for everyone to understand the privilege and pride that goes with wearing the jersey, and I’m excited about the opportunity to build relationships with players and clubs that align with the philosophy and values of U.S. Soccer.”

McBride made 95 caps for the Stars and Stripes and scored 30 goals during his USMNT playing career.

McBride’s 16-year career saw him play for Columbus Crew, Wolfsburg, Fulham and the Chicago Fire. He was on loan at Preston North End from 2000 to 2001 and at Everton in 2003. The Illinois native made 148 Premier League appearances throughout a seven seasons, scoring 36 goals and assisting nine times. In the summer of 2007, he was names the Whites’ captain.

Most recently, McBride was a television analyst for Fox Sports and ESPN. In 2011, he also founded the McBride’s Attacking Soccer Academy, while in 2014 he was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame.

McBride slams MLS with Columbus Crew’s future uncertain

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Brian McBride is a Columbus Crew legend. Nobody can ever take that away from him.

But it seems increasingly likely that the Columbus Crew will be taken away from Major League Soccer.

With current Crew owner Anthony Precourt pushing ahead with his plans to relocate the franchise, one of the 10 MLS originals, to Austin, Texas now that the 2017 season is over, it is unclear what lies in store for Columbus’ future.

Speaking to ESPN’s Max and Herc pod earlier this week, USMNT legend McBride doesn’t believe they’ll be in Columbus for much longer.

“I’d love to see the Crew in Columbus. I honestly have to say that that is sadly not looking like it’s going to be possible (to keep the team in Columbus). When you read the (MLS) commissioner saying, ‘Well, you can apply to have a new franchise,’ all those things sort of tell me the writing’s on the wall. And that’s a shame because it is an absolutely awesome city,” McBride said.

“People are like, ‘Oh, it’s Middle America.’ There’s great things to do, it’s very much a family town but even if you don’t have a family you can still have a lot of fun. For me, it’s incredibly near and dear to my heart because I became a man there and I learned how to measure my being a professional soccer player and to having a life outside of soccer and then of course marrying my wife and having my family be a part of the city is very much something that will always be there.”

McBride also revealed he had spoken to a high-ranking official with the team and told them they messed up by not telling the supporters first about their plans and what was going on behind-the-scenes, then he slammed Major League Soccer when asked if it was also their fault.

“What I know is just what I’ve read. If (what has been written is true), I think they have a part to play, too, because they knew this was going on and they knew that they were building something to allow this to happen,” McBride said. “That doesn’t sit well with me because it’s in Columbus, but it also doesn’t sit well with me if I was a supporter of a different club.”

It is hard to argue with any of what McBride is saying here. The former Columbus, Fulham and Chicago Fire forward has hit the nail on the head.

Of course, he has a strong connection to the Crew after making his name in Columbus from 1996-2004 before moving to the Premier League and going on to become one of the greatest strikers in USMNT history.

McBride is airing the views of MLS fans across the country who aren’t happy, at all, with the way the situation has been handled by the ownership group in Columbus and also by the league office.

Brian McBride talks USMNT, MLS growth and challenging young players

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The U.S. Men’s National Team completed the first half of its task on Friday night after pulling off a convincing win over Panama in World Cup qualifying, but their job is far from done.

Bruce Arena and Co. will have the next part of their challenge on Tuesday night when the Americans travel to Trinidad & Tobago.

[ MORE: Previewing the USMNT’s final WCQ against Trinidad & Tobago ]

Pro Soccer Talk caught up with former USMNT forward Brian McBride ahead of the crucial CONCACAF qualifier, while he works closely with Dove Men+Care and the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) to present the Dove Men+Care “Caring Coach” Award to a youth coach in December.

The 45-year-old, now an analyst for ESPN FC, also discussed his time in MLS, the league’s progression over the past two decades-plus and much more.


PST: Tell me about how you got involved with this Dove and PCA Alliance campaign and about what you’re trying to accomplish by introducing the “Caring Coach” award.

McBride: It all starts with these coaches for young players, and I think it’s really important to recognize them because youth soccer wouldn’t be possible without them. The youth level has had such a huge impact on my life. I really enjoy the relationship that I have with the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA).

PST: Just from talking to other players in the past, it always seems like there’s a coach or mentor along the way that leaves a lasting impression on them and really finds a way to get the best out of them. Did you ever experience that?

McBride: I certainly had that. I think the coaching that I’ve had on the soccer side has been pretty awesome, but for me, the one that really stands out is my high school coach. It wasn’t necessarily the soccer coaching that made an impact. He made an impact on my life and talking through what’s important. He got me to think about things other than just sports and it’s something that will always stick with me.

PST: You’re someone that had the ability to play in 3 World Cups. What would be the ramifications of the USMNT missing out on a World Cup?

McBride: It would be a tragedy. I don’t want to think about the men’s national team not qualifying for a World Cup. I’m staying positive and thinking that they’re going to get a result tonight and make it.

PST: There have been comparisons to Landon Donovan and other former American players. First off, what have you seen from Christian Pulisic that excites you? And second, is it time to start acknowledging him not only as a top USMNT player but also on a global scale?

McBride: I think there hasn’t been a player like Christian Pulisic at the age he’s at that U.S. Soccer has produced. I say that knowing that to compare when Clint [Dempsey] was coming up versus when Landon [Donovan] was coming up to now Christian that these were different times. Soccer has grow to such an extent, not just in the United States, but across the globe where the comparison should always be to where he is at personally.

PST: We’ve seen trends throughout the years where we’ve had MLS-heavy and then European-heavy rosters with the USMNT. With many of the top players migrating back to the U.S. recently, what do you think that does for the long-term complexion of the squad?

McBride: It’s a good question because I believe there are things you learn from playing in Europe that are extremely important. It goes beyond playing to actually experiencing the culture and doing different things day in and day out during practice and then in your personal life. You’re under a magnifying glass and it makes you ultra-focused. The nice thing about guys like Clint [Dempsey], Michael [Bradley] and Jozy [Altidore] coming back was that they had been there long enough to experience it. They’re the types of players that have the ability to come back and create a European-type culture here in MLS.

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PST: How important is it for young players like Tyler Adams and recently Matt Miazga to break out of their MLS academies and into the European soccer scene

McBride: It’s tough because for me the question I’d look at is: ‘Are you ready?’ And when I say ready I don’t just mean physically, but the mental side of things, too. Many of these guys are going to countries where they speak a different language and you already have the cultural differences to overcome. If you have a support support system, you’re mentally prepared and you’re capable of pushing through the hard times to get past the initial trepidations then I think the player should go.

When I first went to Wolfsburg I wasn’t mentally prepared for what was going to happen. I had no idea what I was getting into. It affects you. It affects the way you play. You just have to be prepared for everything that comes with the challenge of moving like that.

PST: You had the chance to see MLS up close from the league’s inception. To you, how drastic has the growth been from when you started playing to here in 2017

McBride: It’s been immense. The MLS has grown a lot bigger than I thought for sure in terms of the teams we have and are going to have in the future. The biggest thing is the infrastructure that has been set up. When we started, we were training on a extracurricular field at Ohio State University. The grass wasn’t cut above our boots and then there were places where we didn’t even have grass. Now, you have immaculate facilities like Atlanta. It’s going to be a huge help in terms of growing the game and the growth of our players. The question of having too many clubs won’t really exist because you have the ability to pull up young players.

PST: Previous expansion sides have enjoyed success out of the gate, but does Atlanta United have the formula for future expansion sides to follow?

McBride: There has been so many teams, but certainly Atlanta because they didn’t have the ability to pull players up from a team that already has a following, like Portland and Seattle did. I think those two organizations were sort of the leading light in terms of expansion and then Atlanta took it one step further by building the team themselves. Adding guys like Carlos [Bocanegra] does wonders for the growth of the club. They’re doing all the right things and their owner is very involved, which reflects well in the view of the public. I think they’re a great example for future teams.

PST: I know you’re from the area and had the chance to play with the Chicago Fire during your career. How impressed are you with their turnaround this season and the additions the club has made to compete in the East?

McBride: It’s huge for the city. In my opinion, and maybe I’m a bit biased because I’m from here, Chicago is the best sports city in the United States. New York and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh won’t like me too much, but I grew up here so this is what I know.

I think that there’s a willingness in the city to support the club when it’s a winner and Andrew [Hauptmann] — club owner — deserves a lot of credit for their success now. He’s had his share of missteps in the past, but he’s righted his wrongs and now he has Nelson [Rodriguez] who understands the league and a coach that really understands the structure of the club. You can’t deny that Dax McCarty has been the most impactful player that has come to this team.

PST: How has the Premier League evolved since your time playing in England? Especially when you see teams like Leicester and Burnley making significant noise over the last few years, instead of the top six always dominating headlines.

McBride: I think that’s more of an anomaly. They have coaches that have a vision and a group of players that execute. You look at what Leicester did and they had every single player closing down the ball. You have to understand how to play together. Burnley has done that so far this season. I don’t see them sticking up there, but we said that about Leicester and look what happened.

The other thing I’ll say is that the money inside the Premier League right now is immense. That does carry a lot of weight. Look at Stoke pulling Jese this season. That’s huge for a club like them. Back in the day that wasn’t going to happen.

PST: What are your thoughts on how the PL title race is shaping up? 

McBride: I picked Manchester City before the start of the season and they’re playing well enough right now to do it. I’m going to ride with them the rest of the way. Sometimes you change throughout the year, but I’m going to stick with them.

USMNT legend McBride, Jaguars president helping select Fulham manager

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Having suffered the ignominy of having had three managers in charge during one season of play, Fulham owner Shahid Khan is taking his time to make sure he gets things right this time around.

With Fulham mired near the bottom of the Championship standings, the next man-in-charge has to be an inspired selection after Martin Jol, Rene Meulensteen and Felix Magath held the position over the past year.

[ RELATED: Injured? Magath says use cheese to heal ]

American midfielder Emerson Hyndman is currently playing fairly regularly for the Cottagers, and a report says Khan has reached into the Fulhamerica files to help him sort out the position. Current caretaker manager Kit Symons considered a candidate.

From London24.com:

David Daly, Huw Jenkins, Brian McBride, Danny Murphy and Niall Quinn have all been named on the committee to review the contenders to take over at Craven Cottage.

All five committee members spoke last week with Khan, and all but McBride met in London within the past few days with Mark Lamping, the president of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League and a non executive director on the Fulham Board of Directors.

Khan met with Daly last month in London, and Khan and Lamping met with McBride during the summer at a United States men’s national team match in Jacksonville.

“I’ve got the right five men to help us find the right man for Fulham,” Khan said. “They each bring something similar, and yet unique, to the search.”

Khan says he’ll be the one to ultimately choose the manager, which is at least somewhat-obvious. Wonder if McBride could toss a name like Stabaek boss Bob Bradley into consideration?