The USMNT landed in Sao Paulo yesterday and in two days, the wonderful pandemonium that is the World Cup commences. Taking a moment to back track though, and on Friday, the day before USA’s final friendly against Nigeria Business of Soccer had the opportunity to speak with USA’s third highest all time leading scorer and former Fulham captain, Brian McBride.
Brian was in Jacksonville ahead of the friendly with Nigeria working with Allstate. In that capacity he worked an autograph session the day of the game at the Allstate tent but he took more satisfaction from the work he did with them the day before, on which he had this to say:
The really special part is the way that Allstate gives back to the community and reaches out to the community. Tonight [Friday] we’ll go and surprise one club team at a practice, I’ll put on a clinic and a game set up for some prizes and then afterwards Allstate provides them with jersey, bag, shin guards, balls and to top it all off they get to open up the bag with two tickets to the game inside.
His work with Allstate is but one part of the trifecta of Brian’s post-playing career work. In addition to community work, he also has recently taken a hand at coaching in addition to his commentating role with Fox. Former professional players, given how short playing careers are, sometimes find it difficult to transition into a post-playing career life and McBride finds that struggle to be normal and sometimes comparable to people who aren’t professional athletes.
There are challenges and I think the biggest is when you’re starting a career at a much older age than a lot of people coming out looking to start careers. There are plenty of people who are half way through their lives and decide to go a different direction in their careers and I guess it would probably be similar to that.
He goes on to suggest that former players should leverage their former careers and that it can be very useful.
…You know something you’ve been a part of something for so long, your knowledge is going to help you hopefully, whether that’s in coaching, commentating, scouting, being a part of a team in a profession, that dynamic is always going to help you.
While he has run his own striker’s academy in Illinois, he very recently took on a temporary coaching position with his hometown MLS club Chicago Fire. We asked Brian about this experience so far and his thoughts on MLS and youth training in general.
Well I think the infrastructure is huge, from day one, in MLS, the stadiums, the training facilities, the amount of staff that a club has, are very big changes and positive changes for the players…I think, now in MLS, you’re seeing a lot of the coaches having experience in playing, some of them overseas, some of them not but, look at Bruce [Arena] he didn’t have the professional playing experience but he understood that he needed to speed up the pace training. I think that that’s happening now across the board because a lot of players are now getting into the coaching side.
Brian explains that through his coaching role he’s able to see a lot more that goes on outside of the actual training in a club.
I think you start to see and understand more behind the scenes. The training side of it is all pretty similar so there are no big eye openers, but behind the scenes, you’re making sure that you’re setting up your teams, the reasons for picking teams and putting guys different spots, manipulating training for some players, for recovery, basically trying to keep them from injury. Just little things that are nuances that all go on in the locker room and sometimes players aren’t told. The importance of openness and honesty has always been something that as a player has always been a big deal. You get a chance to see all that behind the scenes stuff.
Brian insists that while he is learning a lot from his foray into coaching, it is temporary and it seems that his role as a commentator for Fox will be a priority. He explained that his transition into commentating was a bit slow due to his commitments with his strikers academy but that Fox gave him a good opportunity and with Fox’s role in MLS’s and the USMNT’s new broadcasting agreement we hopefully will be seeing more of Brian on Fox in the future.
We naturally ended the conversation with Brian on a USMNT World Cup question. With all the hoopla surrounding Landon Donovan’s omission from Klinnsman’s 23 man roster, we naturally decided…to ask him something else. We asked him what aspect of the roster OTHER than Landon Donovan surprised him or gave him pause. This was his response:
I really thought Clarence Goodson would be a part. I thought that he was going to provide some stability in the center back positions. He [Klinnsman] had other ideas, Geoff Cameron looked very good in there with Besler and certainly adds more pace for cover in that spot. But I was very surprised and I’d have to go with Goodson not being there.
The USA held its own and played arguably its best game out of the friendlies on Saturday against Nigeria and the World Cup is now just days away. Be sure to keep coming back to Business of Soccer all week for World Cup content and on Facebook and Twitter.