By Mick Vaught and David Hein

Chicago (heinnews) – The next month may be a bit strange for Brian McBride as he watches the 2010 World Cup from South Africa. It will, after all, be the first World Cup the Chicago Fire forward has not played in since the 1994 finals in United States.

“I’m going to enjoy watching it with my wife,” McBride told heinnews about the opening match between South Africa and Mexico. “Possibly with family and friends after that.”

McBride was one of the most experienced internationals in US Soccer history with 90 appearances and playing in three World Cups – 1998 in France, Korea/Japan 2002 and 2006 in Germany. And he is the only American to score in more than one World Cup.

And the 37-year-old, who has scored 30 goals for the U.S. in his career, knows quite well how the current crop of U.S. players are feeling as they prepare for their Group C opening match against England on Saturday in Rustenburg.

“It’s going to be a game of little things,” said McBride after Chicago’s 2-2 draw against the Colorado Rapids in the final MLS action before the league’s World Cup break.

“England is an exceptional team and can break you down in many different ways. We’ve got a little more of a dynamic style than we did in the last few World Cups and I think that will help us.”

The Arlington Heights, Illinois native is quite familiar with the English team – especially after spending four seasons with Fulham FC of the English Premier League until debuting with the Fire in 2008.

“It’s a great honor to be back here playing soccer. I love it,” said McBride, who was Fulham team captain for the 2007-08 season after earning Player of the Year honors for the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

McBride, whose two goals place him second all-time for the U.S. in goals scored at the World Cup behind the four tallies by Bert Patenaude at the 1930 World Cup, retired from international competition after the 2006 World Cup in Germany. But McBride returned in 2008 to play for Team USA at the Beijing Olympics, serving as team captain as one of three overage players on the squad.

“That wasn’t really coming out of retirement,” McBride reasoned. “It wasn’t the full national team. I wasn’t trying to come out of international retirement so much as do something I hadn’t done before.”

McBride may not be in South Africa to provide leadership to U.S. coach Bob Bradley’s team. But he has found fond followers within the Fire squad.

The 24-year-old Ghana native Patrick Nyarko said he first watched McBride at the 2002 World Cup. And the two-year MLS veteran Nyarko admits it is a privilege to now have the chance to play with McBride.

“He coaches through the game, tells you what he sees and what you need to do,” said Nyarko of McBride.

“So it’s a privilege for someone like me to play with him. I’m blessed to be playing with someone like him, and what he brings in training is unbelievable. For someone who has been there and won everything he is so humble.”

Despite being downgraded to the status of “only” fan, McBride doesn’t mind his new role in supporting Team USA.

Tags