McBride leaves Fulham, MLS return imminent (updated)

McBride leaves Fulham, MLS return imminent (updated)

Major League Soccer

McBride leaves Fulham, MLS return imminent (updated)

Brian_mcbride_1_ap

American forward and retired U.S. national standout Brian McBride has parted ways with Fulham FC, the club announced on Wednesday.

McBride, who is a month shy of 36, leaves after scoring 40 goals in 150 appearances for Fulham, including several crucial goals in the Cottagers escape from relegation this season.

“After much consideration with my family, we have decided to leave Fulham after four and a half fantastic years," McBride said in a team-issued statement. "I have always stated my intention to return to America at some stage and this seems like the right moment in my career to move on."

The big question now is where will McBride go? Reports have linked McBride to a move to the Chicago Fire, which is his home-town team, but the Fire do not hold the necessary allocation place to sign McBride, or the Designated Player slot you would expect McBride to hold. A trade would likely have to be worked out in order for McBride to wind up with the Fire.

There is also the matter of McBride’s former MLS team, the Columbus Crew, which could desperately use a forward like McBride, who spent nine seasons with the Crew before joining Fulham in 2004.

So who is holding the cards in the McBride sweepstakes? That would be Toronto FC, which currently holds the top spot in the allocation order. Trade offers have already begun pouring in, but prying away that allocation won’t come cheap.

So you have the Fire, which has the trade pieces to get the allocation from Toronto, but not that AND a designated player slot, and you have the Crew, which has the available designated player slot, but not the trade pieces to get the allocation from Toronto.

One team that must be kicking itself right now is the San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose previously held the top spot in the allocation order, but used it to acquire Peguero Jean-Philippe, who has just been ruled out for the rest of the season because his surgically-repaired knee is a mess. OUCH.

(According to this report from Centerline Soccer, San Jose general manager John Doyle is stating that the Earthquakes have regained the top allocation slot after releasing Peguero. My sources tell me this is not the case and Toronto does have the top allocation slot.)

McBride’s departure from Fulham also increases the likelihood that he will join the U.S. Olympic team. As SBI first reported in March, McBride is interested in being one of the over-age players on the U.S. team, and is a safe bet to join Peter Nowak’s squad.

Where do you think McBride will go? Where should he go? Share your thoughts on McBride’s departure from Fulham below.

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