SA Online Ask a Star with Brian McBride


Ray Sadr

Storrs, Conn.

At the moment you are the top scorer in MLS, and all of the teams have been scoring a lot. Is this due to great goal scorers or do teams have sloppy defenders who need to improve?

BM: I think what you're seeing right now is a more offensive-oriented league, and that's why you have the amount of goals scored. I don't think it's because of bad defenders, and I don't think it's necessarily because there are top, world-class individuals. Soccer is a team sport, and if you're going out on the field organized to score, then that's going to happen.

PB: You've had a great start to the season (note: through June 2, McBride led MLS in scoring with 8 goals and 2 assists for 18 points), are you at all surprised with your early-season success?

BM: I can't say that I'm surprised, but I can say that you never know. You never know what's going to happen. I know I have the ability to score goals -- it's just a matter of how other people play around you and how you're going to play when you get out there. What actually happens in the game is something that you can't control; all you can do is prepare yourself, go out there, and try and do your best.

Dave Kantor

Sharon, Mass.

How does the quality of play in MLS compare to what you experienced in the German Second Division?

BM: The quality of play in MLS is higher. The speed of play right now is a little slower, but I'd say the skill level and the amount of good players is higher than what I experienced in Germany. The Second Division is essentially a "workhorse" division -- it's a physical, fast game. Here in MLS, it's been really good soccer. There's been a lot of nice control, and some very nice plays, and I think the speed of play will pick up as the season moves on and everybody gets used to playing with each other.

PB: The play in MLS sounds a little more appealing to you -- is it?

BM: Yeah, I think it suits me better. The style of play is oriented more towards my strengths, and in that sense I like it better...but in many other senses I like it better too.

Mark Steinlein

Gurnee, Ill.

Brian, having seen you play for the Milwaukee Rampage in the USISL, do you feel there are many more young Americans waiting for their chance to make the step up to MLS? Do you feel that the USISL is deserving of a Division II status because of the level of play and the quality of players in the league?

BM: I think the U.S. has a lot to offer, because it's a big country and there are players that haven't had the breaks that they've needed. On the other hand, I also think that MLS has done a very good job of signing most of the players in the USISL that, right now, are deserving to be up. That's not to say that that's a hundred percent constant, because of course there's going to be players that step up their game. I do feel that the USISL has a lot to offer, and it is and will be a very important tool for MLS.

PB: What was your USISL experience like?

BM: We had a really good team. A lot of our players are playing in either MLS (Tony Sanneh, Joey Kirk) or the NPSL (Steve Provan) right now. I think for me it was a lot different than for most other people -- I mean, we would be winning games 5-0, 6-0, that sort of thing. The USISL experience for me was more of a culture thing -- it wasn't necessarily about soccer and learning, it was about professional soccer and trying to balance your time so that you're not completely involved in soccer. In college, you have school (to get away); you've got to find a way to get away from soccer sometimes, and that was something I learned right off the bat.

Natalie Lester

Columbus, Ohio

How supportive has the city of Columbus been to the Crew's endeavors?

BM: From my understanding, and from talking to friends on other teams, I think Columbus has been the most supportive of all the cities. I know that I personally feel that it's been a great experience for me, and all the guys on the team have enjoyed themselves so much in Columbus because of the reception that the fans, and the public in general have given to us.

PB: Are you getting recognized a lot when you go out in public?

BM: I wouldn't say a lot, but I would say we're getting recognized to a good extent. It's really nice to have that, especially here in America

Joshua Collins

Athens, Ohio

As part of the crowd in the win over New England, I too ran onto the field at the end. What was it like to see over 5,000 fans rushing to celebrate the win with you and the team?

BM: (laughs) That was crazy. At first, we were like "Wow, this is great!" Then we were like "Holy cow! Someone could get hurt!" I think once we got in the locker room, we were just completely stunned. Right then, we realized that there's something special here in Columbus.

PB: Take us through the last five minutes of that game, when you rallied from the 2-1 deficit, and scored the gamewinner after that great chest trap -- what was going through your mind?

BM: Before Pete Marino tied it up, I would say that what was going through our minds was, "Oh no, not another Tampa game." After he tied it, you could just see us surge forward, I mean we really wanted that last goal. On that last play, when Mike Clark hit it (the cross), Darren Sawatzky of New England was back, and I realized the ball was going to go over his head. So instead of going up for a head-ball, I just took two steps back and decided to take it down. I chested it, looked up, saw the goalie coming out, and was able to place it in the corner... man, that was a great game.

PB: It sounds like you're really having fun playing in MLS. Are you planning on staying here for awhile, or are you thinking about trying to go back overseas?

BM: Right now, I'm a young player, and I'm enjoying myself very much here in the States. I can't say definitely what I would do in the future, but my plans are to stay here, to help soccer grow here, and to improve my skills to where I think I need to be.

An "American" style of soccer

Bramha Ghosh

Columbus, Ohio

After playing at the collegiate and professional level in the U.S., and in the German Oberliga, do you feel that there is a distinct American "style" to the game? If so, how would you characterize this style in comparison (for instance) to the distinctive styles of Brazil, England, Germany, and such?

BM: That's the thing about American soccer. Right now, there are so many styles that what's happening is coaches are trying to bring them all together to form that American style. You see it on the national team now; you see it with youth soccer somewhat. I think that right now in MLS, you're seeing the type of soccer that the coach has a background in. As the league gets older, you're going to see a style of soccer that involves a lot of things: the touch of the South Americans, the width of the English, going straight forward like the Germans do...a little bit of everything.

The U.S.-Scotland game

Margaret Forbes

Brookings, Ore.

Was it a thrill for you to get into the game against Scotland and represent the national team?

BM: Definitely. That was a big thrill. It was pretty funny that I got in and my first touch was a shot! It was really great to get in there and play against Scotland -- no matter how much time's left, it's always an unbelievable experience to represent your country and to play with guys that are considered to be the best at what you do.

PB: And you were part of a historic victory.

BM: That's right, it's the first time we've beaten Scotland. Going in, coach Sampson was telling us "You know, we haven't beaten them in three tries," and to beat them, to have the team play so well in the second half, and to really control the game was a great thing to be a part of.

PB: What was it like playing with the guys you've been playing against in MLS?

BM: It seems to be just like a family up there. They were accepting of me and made me feel comfortable, which was really nice. I didn't know how it was going to be, but I had a lot of fun just on the trip. Not just getting into the game, but meeting the guys and getting to understand their personalities.

PB: What was the coolest thing (besides the game) that you guys got to do?

BM: It was really just soccer-oriented, but we did get to see Mission Impossible as a team. That was fun (hums theme song); that was about the craziest thing we did.

Jeffery Burke

Tifton, Ga.

It appears that you and (Jovan) Kirovski are the newest future stars of the U.S. team. What do you see as your future role on the team, and do you see yourself as being ready to step up to the ultimate level of competition?

BM: Well, I hope I'm ready. I know that as I get called up, I'll keep preparing myself and getting to the point where I will be ready. Whether or not we're the future, I don't know -- that's something to be seen. Right now, all I can do is go out and try and become a better player, get called in, and produce when I get called in.

Strategy & Techniques

Donnie Roberts

Gainesville, Fla.

As an offensive player, what are your 3 best "go to" moves that you use after you receive the ball and are looking to score?

BM: Three best moves? You know, it doesn't really matter. Whatever the defender gives me is what I'll take. There's nothing planned out, because if I plan it out and the defender's taken it away, then that's not going to work. So, I don't think that there are any certain things you should do every time -- you just have to be able to read the defense and notice it.

Joe Annino

San Luis Obispo, Calif.

If a team that you are playing is, in general, faster than your team, how do you adjust your strategy to move the ball upfield?

BM: That's a good question. I think what you need to do is stay more compact. You can't have spaces in between you, and if you do have spaces, with the other team being faster, they're going to be able to utilize those spaces a lot quicker and a lot more than you'd like them to. If you stay compact, and the spaces are tiny, you only have to take two or three steps to close people down and not let people play through you. Personally, I don't think that for us (Columbus), there's any one team that's faster than the rest in MLS right now. Our team speed is pretty good. We're not that concerned about people getting in behind us.

Making it to MLS

Nathan Chud

Wasilla, Alaska

I am a young, enthusiastic soccer fan wondering what I can do now to increase my chances of becoming a professional? How would you say that you've been successful in getting all the way to MLS?

BM: A fan all the way up in Alaska? That's great! Well, when I was a young kid, I got up every morning, regardless of what day it was, and just went out in my backyard with a soccer ball. I'd do all kinds of things -- I'd juggle, shoot the ball, dribble around my trees. It's very important that you have a love for the game, and if you love it, you'll become a better player. Just keep working hard.

Favorite Player

Nik Riley


When you were a kid, who was your favorite soccer player?

BM: Singapore, wow! When I was a kid, I would say Giorgio Chinaglia was my favorite player. I remember everybody loved Pele, and one day, my U-10 team was changing the jersey numbers. Before that, everyone had crazy numbers -- I was No. 44 (laughs). We were kids in Chicago, so all we had was knowledge of the NASL, the Cosmos, the Sting; so my best friend at the time says "I'm gonna be No. 10, I'm Pele -- you be Giorgio Chinaglia. I'll pass the ball and you score." That's really how that came about.

PB: What was the youth system like when you were growing up in Chicago?

BM: We had a really good time. Actually, I think my club team was probably the only club team that stayed together in Chicago from youth all the way up to U-19. That was pretty strange, because as we got older, there would be more elite clubs trying to get players, but everybody stayed with our club, the Arlington Aces.

PB: So you guys had a really good chemistry going?

BM: Really good. Everybody was really good friends. We always had a great time on road trips. That was really a lot of fun.

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions for Brian. We received many excellent questions, so if you didn't see your name this time, please try again. Giovanni Savarese of the MetroStars will be here to answer your questions later in June. To send a question to Giovanni, click on the Ask A Star part of the Interactive section of SA Online. We'll pick the best questions received by June 16 and post Giovanni's answers later that week.

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