Brian McBride on the World Cup, Landon Donovan and Giving Back to the Community
Brian McBride spoke with World Soccer Talk about Allstate’s community outreach program, Good Hands F.C., the U.S. National Team’s chances in Brazil and what it was like to go to McBride’s bar in Craven’s Cottage.
What motivated you to start playing soccer?
“When I was a kid, I just loved being outside and playing sports. What really got me into soccer was when I moved schools between first grade and second grade. At my school in first grade, it was football, so at recess you played football and you did what your friends did. When we moved to the new school everyone played soccer and I really liked it and enjoyed it. Of course, me being a really energetic and rambunctious kid, I really enjoyed it plus the running and exercise part was an added bonus.”
At what age did you think, “I’m pretty good at this, I can make a career out of it”?
“Back in that day there was very few options, so I think I had a great idea where the dream of it was being possible right around sophomore year in high school. I had to decide what type of language I’d like to take and I was like, “Hmm maybe playing in Germany would be good. So I’ll take German.” And then about half-way through the semester, I realized that was never happening so I stopped taking German. That was the first time, to be honest. The first real inkling I got was my sophomore year in college my coach said there was an agent that was interested in setting me up with a trial after college was done.”
Do you have a favorite moment from your pro career?
“I think you look at special moments and special periods and it’s probably pretty obvious but the 2002 World Cup was an amazing time for me. I think things just seemed to be going right and the team was on top of things. I had just gotten married, my wife was there, my daughter was there and we were able to actually stay in the same hotel so the whole experience itself was just had a very big family aspect and one I’ll just always remember and cherish.”
Who was the best player you ever played against?
“That’s tough just because there’s so many extremely talented players that I was fortunate enough to play against. I couldn’t just pick out just one special player.”
When you were in England, what was your favorite stadium to play in?
Favorite stadium in America?
“Difficult to say, of course playing in Crew Stadium and with the Fire in Toyota Park, you’ve got your loyalties when they’re your home grounds. I always enjoyed playing in the Rose Bowl because the field was always immaculate and I had some pretty big games early in in my national team career as far as the amount of fans gave me a real big taste of what to expect.”
What changes have you noticed with soccer in the United States?
“I think that one of the biggest changes has been the infrastructure, the fact that the players have a much bigger opportunity to train in their facilities and play in soccer specific stadiums. The league of course has grown and the talent has gotten better and better when you look throughout the whole team. For me, the biggest growth has been the infrastructure and the commitment that the owners and people with the wherewithal have put into the game to try to help it grow.”
How did you get involved with Allstate? Could you explain what you guys are doing, and what it entails?
“Well, with the clinic side of it, it’s something Allstate does. It’s really special. It’s called Good Hands F.C. and it’s a chance for myself and Allstate to give back to the community, go to an area with a team that doesn’t necessary have as many opportunities to not only play soccer but have the amenities have jerseys and uniforms. For me, the personal side, I get to spend time with them and help them have a little clinic, have some fun and at the end of the day be fully decked out in new gear that Allstate provides.
“As far as me being involved with Allstate, it’s pretty straight forward. I’ve been with a Allstate as a company as far as my insurance company all my life. My wife’s dad worked at Allstate for over 40 years and it just was a perfect fit.”
So you’re going to San Francisco, New Jersey and Jacksonville Florida?
“We’re in San Francisco now. We’ll be in New Jersey before the U.S. team coming next weekend so this weekend and Jacksonville after that. Three stops and three opportunities to be a part of the community.”
You’re going to be coaching with Good Hands F.C. Is this your first time coaching?
“No, no I’m doing some work with the Fire, doing some part time coaching with them a few times a week during the summer months.”
How do you enjoy coaching?
“I’m enjoying it, I’ve had an attacking soccer academy since I retired, mostly working with young kids and jumping into the professional side, just helping out where I can.”
Does Allstate have any future plans to continue Good Hands F.C.?
“I think right now it’s based on trying to tie in with the U.S. national teams and they also do it with MLS games, I think any opportunity they get a chance, they’re definitely going to try and be a part of the community providing insurance. When you look at the Good Hands F.C. side of it, providing infrastructure for some less fortunate teams and communities and that really is the special part of it.”
How do you think the U.S. is going to do in the World Cup? Any predictions despite the poor group draw?
“You always have to be optimistic. The biggest thing is going to be the first game against Ghana. So often the first game sets the tone for the rest of the tournament. It’s sort of tripled because it is the one game on paper you say is winnable and you should win. The other two, you’re gonna have to wait of course. If the U.S. win that game, you’ll see the momentum building and that’s when surprises happen and that’s when can you pass through.”
What are your thoughts on Landon Donovan being left off the roster? Have you spoken with him?
“No, I haven’t spoke with him. And for me, I would have picked him. He’s a player that changes games and can win games. Regardless if you’re not thinking you’d have him as a starter, he can make such big difference coming off the bench. But you’ve got to trust your coach. And if I was a player as part of that team, I’d want him to be on it. The commitments that the guys have shown up to this point has been 100% behind Jurgen. We just have to wait and see what happens, but for me I would have definitely had him as part of the team.”
With the MLS expanding into new teams, do you think they’re going in the right direction?
“I think it’s definitely going in the right direction, with the commitment of the ownership and from the league has always been about moving forward and creating as many options as possible whether that’s more clubs or better infrastructure it’s there. For us as players and coaches now to continue to push and learn and teach, it’s a very exciting time.”
Have you been to the McBride’s at Craven Cottage?
“I have! It was pretty amazing actually, I was supposed to go the year it opened and I got there, my wife and I flew out for an event… and lo and behold it was one of the few games that got called off ever because of snow! So a few years later we were back and we got a chance to walk around and get a bite to eat.”