by David T. Hammons
Brian McBride's announcement came with great sadness, because he had one of the most illustrious playing careers in American history.
The 38-year old center forward will be hanging up his boots following the conclusion of the Chicago Fire's involvement in the 2010 Major League Soccer season. As it stands right now, McBride's last game would be on September 29th against the San Jose Earthquakes, because the Fire are five points adrift of the final play-off spot.
There are many words that one could try and use to capture McBride's career, but the one word that should be used is: gentleman.
McBride was a consummate professional with a career that stretched all the way back to 1994 when he started playing with the Milwaukee Rampage in the now the A-League.
Despite only winning two team titles, McBride was a winner both on and off the field, and he should be considered to be one of the Godfathers of American soccer for unwavering display of respect for the sport.
The most glowing aspect of McBride was his never-say-die attitude, which never went unnoticed and ultimately earned him a place in the hearts of the fans for every team he suited up for.
What separates McBride from most players is the fact that both sets of supporters respected him and no matter how hard they tried the opposing fans were unable to jeer him, because of the level of commitment he displayed in every match.
Timo Liekoski became the Crew's first head coach, and knew just how impressive of a player McBride was from his time with U.S. MNT, and the former Hartwick College goalkeeper decided to bring the 6'0" forward back from his short stint in Germany to make him the first player taken in the inaugural MLS draft.
Throughout his eight-year career with the Crew, McBride did not let them down, and scored 62 vital goals in 161 appearances. He also led them to their only U.S. Open Cup victory in 2002 in front of the home fans at Crew Stadium.
Even though he was committed to the Crew, McBride wanted to test his abilities against some of the hardest defenders in the world, so he opted to go on loan to Preston North End in the second-tier of English football.
McBride found out first-hand how hard these defenders were in his first game, because he got a blood clot with virtually the first challenge he suffered, which eventually led to him having a rib removed. Some Americans are familiar with the Lancashire club, because someone by the name of David Beckham also got his first taste of the tough-side of English football at Deepdale before returning to Manchester United.
In the winter transfer window during the 2002/03 season, David Moyes, who managed McBride at PNE, secured his services again, but this time at Everton in Barclays Premier League. With the reputation growing in the EPL, McBride showed the millions of viewers his ability by notching four goals in eight game during his three-month loan spell with the Toffees.
After his stint on the Merseyside, McBride returned to Ohio for one more year before leaving for England, which was a move that he coveted for previous three seasons.
Even though Moyes tried to sign him, it was Fulham who paid the valuation that MLS was looking for, and Craven Cottage was to become his new home for the next four years.
McBride, like he did throughout his career, worked his way into their hearts of the Fulham faithful with his no regard for his own safety approach.
In his first two full seasons in West London, McBride captured the Fulham Player of the Season awards and led The Whites in scoring in 2006/07 with 12 goals.
At the start of the 2007/08 season, Laurie Sanchez named McBride to captain Fulham, but sadly for the Illinois-born forward, he suffered a major knee injury, which kept him sidelined for the majority of the season. That season ended up being his last in London as he decided to return home and finish out his career with his hometown club.
McBride showed the MLS fans that he still had it by leading the Fire in scoring and capturing the club's Golden Boot and Player of the Year award in 2009.
Even though McBride had a tremendous amount of success during his 17-year club career, he was much more accomplished on the international scene.
McBride enjoyed a great goal scoring ratio with MNT by scoring 30 goals in just 96 appearances, which ranks him as the third all-time behind Eric Wynalda and Landon Donovan. McBride also became the first American-born player to ever to score in two World Cups - 1998 and 2002.
Brian McBride has called curtains on one of the most prominent careers in United States soccer history, and there is no questioning that he will join some of the greats and be enshrined into the National Soccer Hall of Fame on the first time of offering.