One of the most dynamic players in MLS history will be making his first and only appearance at PPL Park on Saturday.
Chicago Fire forward Brian McBride, 38, has already announced his retirement, effective at the end of the season.
McBride played eight seasons with the Columbus Crew from 1996-2003 and later joined the Fire in ’08 following a very successful stint at EPL side Fulham F.C. He has appeared in 211 total MLS games, scoring 78 goals and adding 51 assists, to go along with 30 goals in 96 caps for the U.S. Men's National Team.
The numbers don’t define McBride. It goes well beyond that.
“Brian is a terrific leader, an ambassador for the sport,” said Union captain Danny Califf, who played with McBride on the USMNT. “He was unselfish and a great teammate and leader. He was the type of player every team needs and it was easy to play alongside him. MLS will miss Brian when he retires. He’s meant so much to this league and he will leave behind a heck of a legacy.”
McBride competed in three World Cups for the U.S., in 1998, 2002 and 2006.
“His work ethic was something for all the younger players to see,” Califf added. “Nothing he has done has surprised me because of the effort he put in.”
Union midfielder Justin Mapp played with McBride in Chicago. It will be a bit odd to be on opposite sides of the field.
“In this league, nothing should surprise you in terms of being traded, but, yeah, it will be a bit strange playing against him,” Mapp said. “Brian was a great teammate, and I consider him a friend. I’ll wish him the best when I see him on Saturday. Hopefully, it’s after we get three points and win the game. I enjoyed playing with Brian and have great memories of Chicago. I’m focused on winning the game and then, sure, I’ll wish him the best of luck in his future.”
Young players can learn so much from veterans such as McBride.
“I tell the younger players all the time to learn from the older players,” said Union forward Alejandro Moreno. “A veteran like Brian has so much to offer. He has done it for a long time and he has done it the right way. I’ll congratulate him after the game. We have a job to do in trying to get three points. A player like Brian, who has been so great for the league, he has so much knowledge and younger players should pick his brain.”
Philadelphia fans will be treated to a living legend in his final days when the Union host the Fire this weekend. One year later, however, and PPL Park would've missed him altogether.
Tickets: Philadelphia Union vs Chicago Fire