News analysis

McBride returns to the USMNT to take over the general manager position

U.S. Soccer today hired Brian McBride as the general manager of the USMNT. In doing so, one of the team's most popular players of all time will now take an active role in its management. It will galvanize the fanbase and McBride will be able to command respect but his defined roles and responsibilities are still fluid. ASN's Brian Sciaretta chimes in.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
January 09, 2020
9:05 PM
U.S. SOCCER today announced that former forward Brian McBride was hired to be the team’s general manager. It had been a position left vacant since Earnie Stewart left the role to take over a broader and more powerful role as the federation’s sporting director.

According to U.S. Soccer, McBride was selected from a list of 20 candidates for the job. Under the current organization structure, McBride will report directly to Stewart.

The descriptions of the job details are broad. Per U.S. Soccer: “McBride’s primary areas of focus will be to oversee the development and management of the player pool, build and guide the culture within the Men’s National Team environment, manage relationships with clubs and represent the USMNT on the global stage.”

But there are still a lot of questions which will likely be flushed out when McBride and Stewart address the media next week. Such questions likely will be:

  • Does Gregg Berhalter operate under McBride?
  • How will he build and guide the culture of the USMNT?
  • Will he be the type to offer career advice to players - like Jurgen Klinsmann did?
  • Why level of decision making will he have and what types of decisions will be under his authority?
  • How and in what areas will he work with Gregg Berhalter?
  • Does he have the authority to hire and fire people? If so, which positions?
  • Will he be present at every camp or every training session?
  • Berhalter, Stewart, and McBride were frequently teammates on the U.S. team. Does he represent an outside or a different voice?
  • Besides being a former player, what in his resume prepared him for this job?
  • What is his take on the current status of the U.S. team? What does he believe he can do to improve it? What were the mistakes that led to missing the World Cup in 2017 and what can be done to avoid repeating that?
  • What are his day-to-day job details when the team is in camp and when the team is out of camp?
  • Does he track the progress of players and does he have any input as to which players make the roster?
  • How will he interact with the youth national teams?

There are a lot of questions but there are also a lot of positives with the hire. Alan Hinton touches bases on a few of the aspects that bode well of McBride’s hire

McBride is without a doubt one of the most beloved and popular American players of all time. He reached rarified stature with the U.S. national team, with the Columbus Crew, and with Fulham FC (who named the Craven Cottage pub after him).

His credentials are strong and he will have a lot of respect when speaking with players, clubs, coaches, and front office officials.

Also, his love for the U.S. team was obvious to anyone who watched him play, or has listened to him talk about it. That image of him bleeding on the field against Italy at the 2006 World Cup was one of the most iconic images in team history. McBride has been critical of the team as an analyst but that came from a position of wanting it to do better. He might make decisions that some disagree with but his heart will be in the right place. 

Finally, the description that this hire is smart “PR” shouldn’t be taken as an insult. The supporters are concerned about the direction of the team and the failures of 2017 took a lot out of people who cared about the team. If bringing in a popular figure like McBride can galvanize the supporters (especially as if it sounds like he will be visible since his description says he will “represent the USMNT on the global stage”) and provide a spark, then it is a good thing.

It’s tough to make a prediction how this hire will work out given that this is the first time this organizational structure has been in place. There has never been a sporting director, a general manager, and head coach all hired and working at the same time. It will come down to how McBride is utilized and the power and roles he is given.

But having Brian McBride involved with the U.S. national team again is a very good thing. He does represent a bit of hope and optimisim for a fanbase that could use it. How long those positive feelings will last remains to be seen.

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