During his playing days, Brian McBride was one of the best forwards US Soccer has ever produced.
McBride was selected by Columbus Crew SC as the first overall pick in the 1996 MLS Inaugural Player Draft, kicking off a lengthy playing career that also saw him score 33 goals in the English Premier League for Fulham and rack up 18 more in 59 games in a second stint in MLS with the Chicago Fire. He also put up 30 goals in 95 career senior caps for the US men’s national team.
Before all that though, he was just another collegiate prospect trying to make it. Currently the USMNT general manager, McBride took a trip down memory lane about the lead-up to that first MLS season among other topics as the featured guest on the second episode of the new US Soccer Podcast with hosts Jordan Angeli and Charlie Davies, saying that the younger version of himself wouldn’t have anticipated the type of career that lay in front of him.
“The anticipation side was huge [leading up the first season],” McBride said. “I mean, everybody that was anywhere from a couple years older than me to a couple years younger than me, the prospect of MLS was something that was huge on the landscape of what we’re trying to see in US Soccer, especially after the ’94 World Cup. So, that part was for sure there. As far as me seeing that I would be a part of it: No.”
To hear McBride tell it, his combine performance was solid but unspectacular, leaving him uncertain as to where he would get selected. That made for an even better story when Columbus made him the first pick.
“I left the combine and I thought, ‘Ok, I had a good combine, scored a bunch of goals, but I was never really a part of that top-tier game, so where I would end up I had no idea,” he recalled.
“The crazy part of the story is that the night before the draft, I’m already out with my buddy. We’re all getting ready, we’re going to go downtown Chicago, I know the draft is tomorrow so probably I’m going to get drafted. At about 5:00 we’re back at my house and my mom says I have a phone call, someone from MLS. Basically they said, ‘Hey, is there any way you could get on a flight tomorrow morning to New York? You’re going to be the first pick.’ I said, ‘For who?’ And they said, ‘No, the first pick overall.’ I said, ‘Holy cow. Alright, I’m definitely going.’ I got an extra 10 grand on top of my $27,500. I had a good time that night.”
The whole episode is a good listen for anybody looking for some US Soccer nostalgia. Check it out here.