Brian McBride looks to restore U.S. men's national team in his image

Since retiring as a player after the 2010 MLS season, former U.S. national team star Brian McBride lived quietly in the Chicago suburbs close to where he and his wife, Dina, grew up.

He did television work for Fox Sports and ESPN and worked on a few soccer projects. When Jurgen Klinsmann was U.S. men's national team coach, McBride says the German approached him about working with the national team, but nothing concrete.

Things changed as his daughters got older.

"Nine months ago, my wife and I sat down and we basically, I started having this conversation with her about the desire to get back into professional soccer," he said. "That aligning with our family, our daughters getting older, it just was a perfect-timing situation."

On Friday, McBride's world changed when he was named general manager of the U.S. men's national team. Since then, he's been in Bradenton, Florida, with the national team at January camp.

Difference in experience. Unlike his new boss and former teammate on the national team, U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart, who spent more than a decade in senior management roles at NAC Breda and AZ in the Netherlands and MLS's Philadelphia Union before becoming the men's national team GM in August 2018, McBride has no management experience in pro soccer. Stewart doesn't see that as a problem.

"Captaining various teams was an important part of the job," Stewart said. "There are some innate qualities that a person has and that you need to have as a manager. When I look at Brian and those unique interpersonal skills that he has, they are outstanding. When it comes to that relationship building and making sure that we're collaborating with clubs and players and coaches on the other side -- one, domestically, but, two, on the other side of the ocean -- those are skills that are going to be very, very important for this job."

McBride says he is going to use the experience in his playing career that took him to Wolfsburg in Germany, Preston North End, Everton and Fulham in England and the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire in MLS and well as his TV work since he retired.

“I’ve done that as a captain of a team," he said. "I do have experience in that, just not necessarily as a general manager.”

McBride's job as general manager will take him on the road a lot from now on.

"Creating partnerships and building networks with domestic and international clubs is something that's just vital and very important," Stewart said. "So there's a lot of traveling that goes into that. Making sure that we're meeting with coaches, general managers and maybe even more importantly our players."

Difference in responsibilities. McBride will be responsible for the hiring and firing of the men's national team coaching staff -- subject to consultation with Stewart and the appropriate federation approvals -- but he won't have the broad authority over the entire men's program, down to the youth teams, like Kate Markgraf has on the women's side. (The introduction of a director of methodology will bring a new top-down oversight to both programs.)

Stewart explained the difference in the responsibilities of the two GM jobs on the extent of McBride's work involved in developing partnerships and building networks with international clubs, which doesn't exist with the women's national team, which currently is dominated by NWSL players.

McBride, whose contract will run through the 2022 World Cup, and Berhalter were teammates on the 2002 and 2006 U.S. World Cup teams, and McBride followed Berhalter's coaching career at the Columbus Crew (2014-18), where he started out his MLS career in 1996.

"Having watched Gregg coaching the Crew and having a close eye on Columbus, of course, being an alumnus, you could always see how organized Gregg's teams were," McBride said. "That was there to be seen this past year. The other thing you don't get to see, it's a complex way of shaping your team. Sometimes it takes a little bit. You have to have a good soccer brain and understand what the ideas are. Sometimes maybe there wasn't always that connection in some games."

McBride said the results were good in 2019, Berhalter's first year in charge, but he said something was often lacking.

"I think results have been good," he said. "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. 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. Certainly, I think there was a need for some pride sometimes. Sometimes, we may have lacked a bit of that effort. At times, there was a lack of real focus and determination. I think I can help with those things.”

13 comments about "Brian McBride looks to restore U.S. men's national team in his image".
  1. frank schoon, January 14, 2020 at 10:19 a.m.

     Stewart said. "There are some innate qualities that a person has and that you need to have as a manager"> Obviously this characterization also meant to refer indirectly to Earney himself as well. And as far as I'm concerned , Earney didn't do so well performing his job. Hopefully , Brian will be better but reading this article  hasn't inspire me for  I see nothing but  'generalities' discussed. Oh, yes, but guess what ,there will a new COMMITTEE formed....LOL,  which deserves caps DIRECTOR OF METHODOLOGY.!! which has a top-down oversight function.  Wow, " oh happy days are here again".....

    We lack a good overal balance in the total organizational sense, for everything is on one side of the equation, of which we are world best at ,which is structuring organizations ,aspects which has nothing to do with the ball. We are just good at creating new committees and organizations, no matter what it is.

    Did anyone read the "What they are saying" comment yesterday by Eddie Johnson" on how he views how bad the development of our youth players is, and the wasting of money by the parents who have no idea how bad their youth are being trained/developed.  In other words, the other side of the equation, the technical side "stinks' as compared to the organizational side. We can create all kinds of committees, committees for committees, you name it ,we got everything covered. But when it comes to the business of just the simplicity of the 'touch' on the ball, a term which covers so many facets, is where we fail. 

    The technical aspect, the aspect that put fans in the stadium, gives us world credibility and RESPECT for our game, the really hands on ability of ball handling and play,  will noit improve if one thinks a Earney Stewart or a Brian McBride will head the ship. Eddie's Johnson , statement gives us a better and sober picture and wake up call of what needs to happen.....

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, January 14, 2020 at 11:41 a.m.

    I have confidence in McBride, but...he is removed from all player development below the Senior team. He is also only hires the Senior Team staff, not the youth coaches. GB is going to hire all the youth coaches for the men's program. 

    Looks to me like USSF wants to develop players from behind a desk. 

    From my experience, coaches develop their own approach to the job over the years. They often start off copying someone else's methods, but they soon become selective about what they adapt from others. What I am leading up to is that a "Director of Methodology" is antithetical of the way most coaches work. Of course, I am making assumptions about what a "Director of Methodology" does, but I think its a safe assumption that a "Director" directs.

  3. Frans Vischer replied, January 14, 2020 at 12:04 p.m.

    I LOVE IT, Frank!It is such corporate talk, so little about passion for playing the sport, and playing it the right way!

    I read Eddie Johnson's quote yesterday too, which remonded me of watching my daughter's U16 game a few years ago. She's a decent player who thinks as she plays, making decisions as she runs forwar. But the vast majority of the girls simply kicked the ball away, without a thought in their heads. Essentailly, as if the ball is something you don't want, something to get rid of. So the ball simply flew from one end of the field to the other.
    Alongside my daughter's game was a boys U16 game. It was the exact opposite- boys running/passing with purpose, intelligence. There was a flow to the game, it was enjoyable to watch because they really played soccer. 

    As for McBride, I'm hopeful he'll bring respect, fight, as well as intelligence to our MNT. 

  4. Michael Saunders replied, January 14, 2020 at 12:09 p.m.

    There is a litany of information whereby creating too many layers in any organization leads to dysfunction.   

    Added comment:   If I were Markgraf, i would find another layer of authority created above her "insulting" .... First Stewert and now a propsed "Director of Methodology" TBA  .....

  5. frank schoon replied, January 14, 2020 at 12:29 p.m.

    Frans, we definitely need to clean up the situation... Sooner or later we will have so many committees and layers that we'll lose sight of what it is was that we are organizing about......
    Talking losing feel and touch ,so true...You're right about the girls and boys differences in soccer....
    A world of difference..

  6. frank schoon replied, January 14, 2020 at 12:34 p.m.

    Bob, I was just saying no matter whom you hire for the top has no real use when it's rotten on the bottom. What good is it if the product that comes up to the level of where the McBrides rules and deals with it is not a good product and therefore as a consequence this will effect the McBrides if that position's functionality as well as the other thousand and one committees.....

  7. R2 Dad replied, January 14, 2020 at 4:18 p.m.

    My assessment is that USSF is too afraid of their voting members (clubs and coaches) to try and tell them they're doing a crappy job developing players. The thing is, these coaches and clubs KNOW they are doing a lame job--they just don't care. Watch a new player tryout session--perfect encapsulation of everything that is wrong: Coaches that don't know/care how to evaluate players, mindless scrimmages, no player warm-up or warm-down. There are so many clowns, I'm tired of this circus.

  8. Frank Copple, January 14, 2020 at 3:17 p.m.

    I agree with you all. In Brazil, they make jokes about our propensity for "organization". And "methodology" sounds like it will be another wasted decade for the USMNT. IMHO McBride has to have a say in player development at the lower levels.  

    As far as pride, first thing is to teach them to sing our National Anthem and look like they are proud to be playing for our National team. When TV shows the teams singing their Anthems, the other countries are obviously proud and demonstrate it. Most US players might as well be picking their noses.

  9. frank schoon replied, January 14, 2020 at 4:27 p.m.

    Frank, Great comments, well said.. R2 good stuff, there is so much wrong here...

    I wish many more Eddie Johnson types would come out and speak about the bad yoiuth development that it will sooner or later reach the top of the pyramid  decision- making pyramid...

  10. David Ruder, January 14, 2020 at 11:26 p.m.

    Very thin resume for this job. 

  11. Philip Carragher, January 15, 2020 at 8:18 a.m.

    My son had the opportunity to play with Brian McB in small-sided games a few years back and his main comment about McB was how fast his decisions were. I saw Brian play in high school and was impressed at his superior aerial skills. A player I coached, a fantastic female player, used to hang with Brian and his soccer buddies during high school and they used to spend most of their time goofing around with the soccer ball including pickup games. He's also been around a decent soccer club here in the Chicago suburbs and I assume he now knows some of the nuts and bolts of that arena. I've enjoyed his TV commentary. Brian brings a soccer DNA into the upper reaches of US Soccer along with enough street cred to get anyone he talks to to listen to him. Maybe, just maybe, we'll see him do things that will suprise us.

  12. frank schoon replied, January 15, 2020 at 9:17 a.m.

    Philip, always like to read behind the scenes up and close and personal info like you get from Ric Fonseca at times, which gives one a better picture of some players or issues.  My problem is that it doesn't really matter who we bring in for that position to fill when the product produced on the other side of the equation is not up to snuff. 

    What Eddie Johnson states is so true and I myself have been saying this all along for years but nothing is going to happen unlike people like Earney Stewart during his reign should have mentioned about our poor youth development, as well as Brian McBride. It is going to take people like that to mention the problem Eddie Johnson stated. But if these two guys, like Earney and Brian don't open their mouths but just play along and be good soldiers and fall line nothing will improve....

    Have you noticed anywhere in the press a follow up Eddie Johnson's statement....let me know...
    I wonder if SA will do something to initiate a discussion...But I'm afraid nothing is going to happen...

  13. John Hofmann, January 16, 2020 at 12:41 a.m.

    Started pretty late in life jumping over time on the soccer bandwagon.  As someone who was never good (but just loved scrimmaning, co-ed competition, etc.) I haven't rubbed shoulders with legions or even know finer points of play.  However, my experience has shown a U.S. minority of knowledgeable soccer buffs highly frustrated by a system basically dominated by a lmany more people who really don't know much about soccer, but may on occasion (World Cup, Confederations Cup, etc.) because instant fans if the US is involved.  It seems that a to a large degree US soccer depends upon a lot of casually-related people (lots of soccer moms & dads) who are responsible for much of the money coming into the system w/o any kind of real passion for soccer.  Fascinating touch in The Two Popes - our current Catholic Church's Holy Father from Argentina of course being a fantical 'football' fam because all Argentinians  are.  The people who commment in SA columns seem very cognizant of this huge divide - universal passion in I'm guessing any top-notch soccer country in the world, and a US situation where the system l) to a significant degree depends upon monies from people who are not either very knowledgeable or passionate; and 2) those same people expecting and demanding in many ways input into how that system(s) is progressing.  The 'force(s)' behind USsoccer it seems to me often do not support or care for national soccer aspriations, if it's going to in any way infringe upon (or even threaten in any way) Little Johnnie's or Joanie's  wwkley in-season soccer games, soccer league, or any other very humble and non-professional soccer efforts taking place in Podunk USA.    I'm assuming that soccer organization throughout the US are mostly if not almost always guided by where's the money coming from, who's going to provide it and will that money stream be affected by being 'too distracted' via diverting too much 'of our money' into international soccer pipedreams.  Without significant changes to that situation the US will continue to spin a lot of wheels related to soccer (how many of the millions upon millions of people involved with soccer at all ages in this country, cited over and over by soccer enthusiasts, have really any passionate bones in the bodies about soccer?).

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