In a 17-year career spent largely with the Columbus Crew, Fulham FC and the Chicago Fire, Brian McBride became a legend for club and country. He was twice named Fulham's Player of the Year and to this day has a pub in Craven Cottage named after him.
For the United States men's national team, McBride earned 96 caps and represented the U.S. in three World Cups. He is the U.S.'s third-highest all-time leading scorer and was inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2014.
While working with Allstate's "Good Hands FC" on Monday, McBride spoke with Bleacher Report ahead of the USMNT's World Cup warm-up game against Azerbaijan.
Bleacher Report: Hi, Brian. What are you up to right now?
Brian McBride: I'm out in San Francisco for the U.S. game with Allstate for a community event. We get to go to a club in the community and put on a clinic and, at the end of it, we get to surprise them with all new uniforms, bags and balls. It's a really nice way to give back.
B/R: Obviously, the big news this past week has been about Landon Donovan being cut from the World Cup roster. What are your thoughts?
I think it's a very bold move. It was a surprise to me, that's for sure. One that I wouldn't have taken. I thought he would have been part of the team considering his ability to change games and score goals.
B/R: You played with Landon in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. What can you say about him as a teammate?
McBride: As a teammate, he's a quiet guy. He does most of his talking on the field. He's not really a motivational guy, but what he's done on the field has been amazing. As a teammate, you always want to have the best players available and he still is. Of course, back then he was thought of as invaluable.
B/R: Who do you think will be the most important player for the U.S. in Brazil?
McBride: I think it will be Tim [Howard], Michael [Bradley] and Clint [Dempsey]. These guys are going to have to lead and all three of them are leaders. They're all different type of individuals, they all have different attributes that can really help.
B/R: How would you rate Jurgen Klinsmann's performance so far as manager of the U.S.?
McBride: Well, you can't argue with the way they came through the hexagonal. Their qualifying was as impressive as any.
B/R: You played in three World Cups yourself. What memories come to mind when you think back on your time with the U.S. national team?
McBride: In 1998, I was just happy to be a part—so proud to be able to represent my country at the World Cup. But it didn't go the way we wanted. In 2002, it was the exact opposite. The results were great. We performed very well. In 2006, you look back on it and the disappointment of not really showing up for the first game—not playing up to the ability we had. We put our backs against the wall and had to fight the rest of the way. Unfortunately, we weren't able to beat Ghana. We made our bed.
B/R: Some of the most iconic images from the 2006 World Cup were the pictures of you coming off the field with a bloodied face against Italy. What do you think of when looking back at that specific game?
McBride: I think about the difference in that game, compared to the difference in the first game [against the Czech Republic]. We needed every single player. From the emotion of going up a player to having to grind out a goal after going down. [It took] the utmost commitment as a group. Italy goes on to win the World Cup and we had a chance to beat them even a man down.
B/R: You retired from international play in 2006, but remained an active professional through 2010. As the U.S. approached the 2010 World Cup, they were constantly rotating strikers trying to find an effective combination. Do you ever wish you'd stayed with your international career and made a push for a fourth World Cup?
McBride: It's funny. You're the first person to ask me that question. I talked with Bob [Bradley] after he got the job. And, again, [U.S. Soccer] got in touch with me before they named the 30 [man provisional roster] going into camp. My commitment to my country was always there. It was just time for someone else.
B/R: What do think is the biggest area the U.S. needs to work on before it heads to Brazil?
McBride: One of the biggest question marks is making sure you sort out the back four. There's enough dynamic players in the team, you're going to create a few chances. But you can't allow goals.
B/R: How do you think the U.S. will do this summer?
McBride: I think it all depends on the first game. If you're able to get three points, that can build your momentum. It's soccer, anything can happen.
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