[INTERVIEW] Since he retired from the national team in 2006, U.S. fans have hoped for another forward with the ability and attitude of Brian McBride, who is ending his competitive career after this MLS season. The 38-year-old, who is in his third season with the Chicago Fire since returning to MLS after a successful EPL stint with Fulham, discusses his present, past and future ...
SOCCER AMERICA: How long have you been wrestling with the decision to retire?
BRIAN McBRIDE: There wasn’t any wrestling, really. There was a lot of talk between my wife and I last year, and I had a talk with the Fire. They wanted to start doing stuff for the players in a sense that there really wasn’t a line of communication between the players and management. That excited me, and it’s really been good. The management side, Javier [Leon] and Andrew [Hauptman], really made a commitment to do things for the players and their families.
After that, it was looking forward to the season, going to preseason, and trying to get things ready to go further this year. Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked out, but that’s sports. It’s never going to be easy.
SA: Hasn’t been particularly hard for you, given all the injuries and health issues you’ve gone through?
McBRIDE: Sure, but everybody does.
SA: Not everybody goes through blood clots and enough facial fractures and wounds to stock a season of Grey’s Anatomy.
McBRIDE: Ah, that’s nothing.
SA: Oh, come on. …
McBRIDE: It’s not, really, and it has nothing to do with this decision, to be honest. This is different. When my body started feeling the way it was feeling and the recovery times weren’t as quick, I was looking forward to the next chapter.
SA: I know you had a training session at noon yesterday, the day before the game,
McBRIDE: Yesterday was short. The day before was, well, it’s different all the time. You always enjoy being on the field with your teammates, but it’s a long trip. I’ll be away from my family for a week [the Fire plays at Dallas Saturday]. These are things you have to do, so you don’t do it begrudgingly. When you weigh everything, there comes a time where you have to focus on something else.
SA: You’ve played for the national team in three World Cups, started your MLS career in Columbus and will finish near your home in Chicago, and had several strong seasons in England. Is there one accomplishment or characteristic of your career you are especially proud of?
McBRIDE: I haven’t really reflected on my career. We’ve got, what, five games now? After that I’ll probably reflect a little bit more. Right now my focus is forward and not what’s behind me.
SA: The team changed coaches during the offseason but once again, the team has had trouble winning at home, and this win [3-0 at San Jose Sept. 29] broke a seven-game winless streak.
McBRIDE: We’ve been having trouble everywhere, consistency, you know. This is a huge win and we pretty much have to win every game and hope for other teams not to win. It’s a lot of ifs but that’s what you’ve got to focus on. We’ve put ourselves into this situation and we aren’t in control of it, but what we can do is keep focus and show some integrity and wherewithal and do all we can.
SA: Freddie Ljungberg had a great game with a goal and two assists. What has his arrival done for the Fire?
McBRIDE: He’s been a great player throughout his career and he’s been that for us. He was like a breath of fresh air and he came at a time when we needed a kick. He’s a player who can change the game, you saw that tonight, not only with what he can do technically but how he sees the field.
SA: Did you know him well before he became a teammate?
McBRIDE: Not really. I saw him once here in MLS at an event. Other than that it was just shaking hands after the game. I didn’t know him all that well.
It’s a new situation throughout, for him, for us. Finding that consistency of not only quality but sometimes you just have to grind out results.
SA: So with all that money stashed away will you be living a life of leisure in retirement?
McBRIDE: No. I wish. Maybe a few more years in Europe and I could have done that. I’ve got a rough business plan for some attacking soccer camps, about 20 kids, I’d be very hands-on and incorporate the whole aspect of attacking soccer. It’s not an LLC yet or anything like that but a good place for me to be.
I’m open to other things. I’m not naïve enough to think that’s going to be it. I’m hoping to get some other things, but I want to be home on the weekends. I want to see my kids doing their activities. I want to go out to dinner with my wife on a Saturday night, and a Friday night for that matter. Those are the things you get to look forward to, but it’s not to say I didn’t enjoy playing and don’t still enjoy it.
SA: Is your project something that U.S. Soccer might be interested in?
McBRIDE: I don’t know. I talked to Claud [Claudio Reyna, U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director] for a split-second when I retired [from the national team] and we’re going to talk sometime around our game on the 10th. I haven’t heard from any side like that and I’m not really focusing on it right now to the point I’m thinking about a business, because I have to be focusing on what I’m doing here with the Fire.
SA: Like winning. ...
McBRIDE: That’s the only way we’re going to get it done.