by Brian Morse
Try and wrap your mind around this:
Conor Casey and Kenny Cooper are now the USMNT's 2nd and 3rd choices at striker for South Africa.
The USA has two Jan Koller knock-offs as options to partner up top with Jozy Altidore. Neither one of these men have proven to be top internationals, and now they are primed to be main cogs in our World Cup squad. I would go so far as to say I would rather see Brian Ching in camp than the two men who strike fear in absolutely no one. The worst part of this equation is not even the fact that the Nats are so super thin at forward so as to have Casey and Cooper in the mix to start, but it now leaves Bob Bradley with one of these two as his only possible selection off the subs bench. In the 80th minute of a World Cup match, do you really want to be in the position of having to turn to Cooper or Casey for an equalizer? Target men such as these both are, isn't the kind of player you want to have as your go-to guy for a key goal. Ideally the Yanks should be able to turn to someone with pace or creativity who can get past tired defenders and create their own chances, not someone who relies solely on the service of their midfield. The USA has no such luxury. A team in this situation should in the very least be able to call in their wily veteran, someone with multitudes of international experience. A man that upon his entrance brings confidence to other ten men on the pitch. This brings us to retired national-teamer, Brian McBride.
Certainly McBride's age is the case against him. McBride will turn 38 during the group stage in South Africa and an appearance for the USA would make him one of the 20 oldest players ever be capped during a World Cup. He wouldn't be able to go a full 90 three times in the group stage, I can't argue that fact, but he could be incredibly dangerous in 20 minute bursts. His strike rate in MLS this year is 1 in 3, not on par with Casey or Cooper, but certainly respectable. What intrigues me is his strike rate as a member of the national team. 30 goals in 96 matches, far outpacing the combined 6 in 26 of Casey and Cooper. McBride has scored his 30 goals all over the world, in key moments, in big tournaments and against quality opposition. Only Casey has scored away from US soil, his brace against Honduras. Cooper on the other hand has scored only stateside, only 1of his 4 goals past a non-CONCACAF opponent, in a friendly against Denmark's B-Team.
Brian deserves at the very least a phone call from Bob Bradley to gauge his interest. McBride played for the Olympic team last summer in China, proving he can still play internationally for the Yanks. The US can afford to give him a roster spot and skip taking a 7th defender. The intangibles a player like McBride brings to a young team are invaluable. I certainly think his locker room presence far surpasses anyone in the current player pool save Frankie Hejduk. McBride has shown to have great mental fortitude, an unrivaled work rate, and “in the box courage”, which can only help the squad. His being on the pitch for the US would bring a similar talismanic feel and brashness that comes for Mexico with Blanco or Italy with Del Piero. Its a no-lose situation to ask him to lace them up a few more times for the Red, White, and Blue.