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Soccer Pro Brian McBride MAG
Brian McBride, an Illinois native born in 1972, is a forward on the U.S. Men's Soccer Team. Hailed by many as the best American player ever, his six goals in World Cup play are the second most in U.S. history (www.ussoccer.com).
How long have you been playing soccer?
I've been playing since I was eight years old.
Who inspired you to play when you were a kid? Did you have any heroes or role models?
Really, no - I picked it up and played because of friends. I enjoyed being involved in team sports and making close friendships.
Did your parents push you to compete?
Not at all - my mom supported me in every way, though. I was very much a sports jock so she didn't have to push me in any way.
Did you play other sports as well?
Growing up I took lessons and played just about every sport you can think of!
How did soccer win out?
It really came down to deciding between baseball and soccer. Soccer won out because I enjoyed it more.
Who was your favorite coach growing up? What did he or she expect of you?
I was fortunate to have a lot of good coaches. They were all good in different ways, whether it was letting us have fun, not necessarily showing us the game, but encouraging us, and making sure we worked hard. I'd say my high-school coach, John Erford, was by far my biggest mentor. He was like a father to me.
How did you feel about competition versus just having fun?
I think competition is very important; it breeds many good things in a person. I know a lot of people are now talking about its negative aspects and how it degrades people who don't do well. But it's just like high school, you know, competition weeds out the weaker kids. I think everybody has something to add to this world. Competition helps people figure it out. There might be too much emphasis on whether or not you win that day instead of on improving as a young kid, but I think competition is important.
Are you superstitious when it comes to playing sports?
I used to be, but not any more. Basically I say a few prayers before a game and let that direct me, not superstitions.
What do you do to "psyche" yourself up for a game?
You know, when you get to this level, you have to be able to get yourself up for every game. You prepare yourself by concentrating on what you have to do out on the field.
What else do you like to do besides play soccer?
My favorite sports are soccer, hockey and volleyball. Unfortunately, I don't get to play a lot of hockey and volleyball during soccer season! I picked up golf - I'm not the best at it, but I enjoy it. And, of course, I like to spend time with my wife and my two-year-old daughter.
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
Going to the last World Cup.
Didn't you score the only U.S. goal in France?
Yes, and that was unfortunate! I wish we had scored five or six goals!
What was your most disappointing moment as a soccer player?
It was probably my sophomore year at St. Louis University. We had a great team and played in the Final Four against Virginia. In the first half they basically beat us down. They were up 1-0. In the second half we just came out and took it to them in this semi-final match and were up 2-1. With one minute and 20 seconds left, they scored and sent the game into triple overtime. Then they won. This sent them on their winning steak of four in a row!
What is it like to play for the U.S. Men's National Team?
It's a great honor.
How is the team adjusting to recent injuries?
You never want to see what happened to Chris Armas happen - it really stinks. [Armas, probably the U.S.'s best mid-fielder, tore his ACL in a World Cup warm-up match against Uruguay and missed the Cup].
What is it going to take to beat Portugal in the U.S.'s opening World Cup game?
It is going to take us playing our best game and keeping them off of theirs! And it's going to take a bit of luck! [U.S. beat Portugal 3-2.]
Will the team stick to one strategy for playing all the teams or use a different strategy for each team?
We'll basically stay with the same strategy.
What do you think of World Cup coach Bruce Arena?
I think he is a great coach. He has the ability to get his point across and tell us what he is trying to accomplish on the field. He is also able to build the confidence and morale the team needs off the field.
What are your goals as a player for the future?
My goals are for the U.S. team to get to the second round of the World Cup and to win a championship here in the U.S. with my club team the Columbus Crew.
What advice would you give younger players?
The main thing is that you need to enjoy it. Don't get to the point where you are close to getting burned out. Keep enjoying it, and if you do that, then you are going to get better. Put your head down and work as hard as you can because there is always someone better out there. It doesn't matter whether it is in your city, your state, your country or the world!