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Au Revoir, Brian McBride

American soccer will lose one if its most venerated heroes at the end of the MLS season when 38-year-old Brian McBride finally call it quits after a 16-year career.

McBride is most known in the United States as a star for the national team. A decade of solid performances punctuated by moments of absolute brilliance. His eventually game-winning goal against Portugal in the 2002 World Cup is one of the most famous in U.S. history, rivaled only by Donovan’s 2010 goal against Algeria and Gaetjen’s 1950 winner against England. But it was his tenure in the EPL that endeared him to the English public and paved the way for other Americans to make the jump to the world’s most competitive league.

Following a couple of sucessful loans at Preston North End and Everton, McBride moved from the MLS to Fulham for a paltry £1.5 million in 2004.  He arrived as an aging (already 31) American striker from a league few respected with zero expectations. Four years later, he left with 40 goals and a Craven Cottage bar named after him. Fans chanted his name when he saved Fulham from relegation and commentators marveled at his scoring ability.

His work ethic and humility were a welcome reprieve from the egotistical narcasissm exibited by most professional athletes. He never complained, never showboated and always put the team above himself. It was those qualities that convinced Roy Hodgson to award McBride the captain’s armband in 2007, a first for an American.

“As my captain last season Brian was truly respected in the dressing room and led by example on the pitch,” said Hodgson after McBride left Craven Cottage in 2008 to return to his native Chicago. “His attitude is second to none, Brian is a true pro in every sense of the word.”

McBride announced his retirement with a short press conference outside the Fire’s stadium in Chicago. The conference was short, McBride tearfully thanked his wife and talked about his love for the game, which was always evident. He, along with Claudio Renya and Brad Friedel, created a great deal of respect abroad for the progression of the sport in this country. That respect is now being taken advantage of and eliminated by a few choice American businessmen, but I digress. He was a star, but never acted like it. Instead, McBride was a true professional, an ideal ambassador for the States, and one of the nicest guys ever to put on a pair of boots. He made his country proud and will be sorely, sorely missed.

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  1. IanCransonsKnees

    September 4, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Absolutely class player and vastly under rated much like Kevin Davies for example. Fantastic header of a ball and always appeared to make the effort for whoever he played for.

  2. the other robert

    September 4, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I agree. class player.

    …and he “endeared” himself.

  3. Duke

    September 4, 2010 at 10:38 am

    He’s been great to have in Chicago, and still plays at a high level. Even at age 38, he’s a cut above most MLS talent.

    And still as quiet and humble as ever. He will be missed.

    I’m not one who thinks success as a player automatically leads to coaching success, but it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to give him a try. The sport could use more people like him.

  4. Smokey Bacon

    September 4, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Top player and an old school centre forward. Lets hope he stays in the game, gets some coaching under his belt as he could be a serious candidate for the US job down the road.

  5. lee

    September 4, 2010 at 7:08 am

    i hated the fact mcbridesmaid never the bride kept saying soccer over over here instead of football yet becks says soccer when hes in the states

    • clay

      September 4, 2010 at 8:25 am

      If yall don’t like the sport being called soccer, why did YOU invent the damn word. It’s an English word, invented by English people to describe the game. Why on earth would English people get mad at its usage?

      • lee

        September 4, 2010 at 8:51 am

        read what i wrote properly next time before you u open ur fat mouth in england its called football an he was playing in england an still saying soccer probs just to be a dick

        • jason

          September 4, 2010 at 10:13 am

          To think that McBride was being a dick because he was calling the beautiful game a different name is pretty far fetched. I mean, after he was named captain for Fulham, I don’t recall any of his teammates or coaches going, “Yes, he’s a dick and that’s why he should be our leader.”

          But let’s also not forget that football is an entirely different sport in the United States whereas in England, soccer is not another game. Making the switch from saying soccer to football is harder this side of the pond, than it is to go from football to soccer.

          My dad grew up in England, me in the U.S. He calls the beautiful game “football” and I go by “soccer”. I and nobody else thinks he’s being a dick by calling it football. And he certainly doesn’t think the same of me by calling it soccer. Granted it is confusing to understand which game my dad is talking about at times (football or American football), but that is something with live with and actually enjoy being in a multicultural home.

          • John Gregory

            September 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm

            Let’s have a few facts on this football vs. soccer debate, shall we?

            1. Even in England, they were once interchangeable. Clive Toye noted that up until the mid-20th century, English people used “soccer”, “football”, and “association football” just as often.

            2. The governing body for the sport in the United States is the US Soccer Federation. Up until 1974, it was called the United States Soccer Football Association.

            3. Several publications of the FA in England have had “soccer” in the title: e.g. “Official Football Association Soccer Quiz Book”, or “The Football Association Coaching Book in Soccer: Tactics and Skills”

            4. Writers Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski suggest soccer was a very common name for the game in England up until the 1970s, and its decline is due to the incorrect perception of its Americanism, mostly due to the rise of the NASL in the 70s.

            5. It’s not just America who refers to it as soccer. Soccer is the dominant word for it in the following countries where English is an official language:
            -Canada (where football usually means either “Canadian football” or the extremely similar American game)
            -Australia (football usually refers to Aussie Rules Football, or at times rugby union)
            -Ireland (That’s right! The country sitting directly to your left! Football usually refers to Gaelic football here.)
            -New Zealand (Some dispute there, where the full term “association football” is being emphasized to distinguish it from rugby union or rugby league.
            -Disputed in South Africa (where the damn World Cup just happened! Soccer City, anyone? However, football is used officially in some rare cases, such as the national association’s name.)

            6. It’s a damn word. Who cares?

            • The Gaffer

              September 4, 2010 at 4:01 pm

              Well said John. As we can see from videos that we’ve had on EPL Talk from the 1980s and 1970s, the Brits referred to the sport quite often as soccer. It’s only in the last couple of decades where it’s been deemed a derogatory term for the sport in the UK. But it’s still used quite often in the UK, even today with two of the most popular shows in England such as Soccer AM and Gillette Soccer Saturday.

              The Gaffer

  6. Lars

    September 4, 2010 at 12:56 am

    He is one of the few American footballers that I can actually respect and like. He was down-to-earth and all about doing his job; he wasn’t a Primadonna and didn’t feel the need to be a commercial superstar (*cough* Donovan *cough*). All in all, McBride was a top-class professional both on and off the field; this is the guy up-and-coming American players should look up to and try to emulate.

  7. The Gentleman Masher

    September 4, 2010 at 12:38 am

    Class all the way…and had an innate ability to shut up any haters he had (myself included until the ’02 Portugal game!). I will forever respect Fulham for the love they showed him. I sincerely hope he has a place in the US coaching set-up, because I think he has the modesty and leadership to help alot of our young guys learn.

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