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USA general manager McBride wants more ‘pride’

Los Angeles (AFP) – United States general manager Brian McBride said Monday he hopes to help restore “pride” in playing for the team as he settled into his new role in charge of the national squad.

The 47-year-old former Fulham striker has been appointed to help revive the fortunes of the US men’s team, which has struggled with inconsistent form since its failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

United States Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart confirmed on Monday that McBride would have chief responsibility for hiring and firing the US national team coach.

McBride told reporters that while he would not get involved in issues of player selection or coaching, he believed he could help influence the “culture” around coach Gregg Berhalter’s squad.

McBride, whose contract runs to the end of the 2022 World Cup, defended Berhalter’s record since taking over in January last year but said he believed “pride” had sometimes been lacking.

“I think results have been good. We went 11-5-2 last year, went to the Gold Cup final, advanced to the Nations League knockout rounds. Those are all big things,” McBride said.

“Having said that certainly I think there was a need for some pride. Sometimes, and I said this as a player, when I didn’t have it, when I didn’t have my full quality of game, I made sure that I still gave everything I possibly could, and I had pride in that.

“Sometimes I think we may have lacked a little of that effort, and that may have been for many different reasons. That’s something that I think I can help with. That’s the culture side of things.”

– Patience needed –

Berhalter faced criticism last year for a play-from-the-back tactical approach that some pundits believe is ill-suited to the players at his disposal.

McBride said while responsibility for team selection and practice would rest with Berhalter, he would not hesitate to raise issues good or bad as he saw fit.

“Part of my job is definitely to communicate with Gregg,” McBride said. “Whether it’s an issue or something going on that I think is very good that needs to definitely be addressed.

“There’s not a situation where I’m going to jump into the picking of players or running of practices, but if there’s an issue that needs to be discussed then certainly I would have that discussion with Gregg.”

McBride said Berhalter deserved patience as he attempts to develop a youthful squad.

“We have to remember where we’re going through a period where we have a new coach in his first year, with a lot of young players,” McBride said.

“Bedding in young players, having a new coach with new ideas, it’s sometimes hard to see from the outside. Having said that there have definitely been times when we’ve been lacking in some things, whether it’s been a half of soccer — first half good, second half not so good. Or maybe there has been a lack of focus and determination. I think I can help with those things.

“But certainly, seeing what Gregg’s doing inside the camp and how complex the ideas he’s putting across to players, the buy-in from the players, I think you’re going to see a lot of positive things moving forward.”

The United States team will play its first game of the McBride era on February 1 in a friendly against Costa Rica in Los Angeles.

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