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Are national team retirement matches a good idea?

BrianMcBride (

The recent retirement of Brazilian legend Ronaldo, and the subsequent news that he would play in a friendly with Brazil this summer as a farewell, left me wondering if there was an American player who deserved that kind of treatment, and if such a ceremonial set-up was worth having.

The first name that comes to mind is Brian McBride, who retired last fall as a member of the Chicago Fire. The U.S. national team missed a chance to field McBride one last time when it faced Poland in Chicago in October (though McBride is said to have downplayed the possibility of any such event), and it's safe to say the U.S. Soccer Federation wouldn't now schedule a match just for McBride. Retired American legends are more often treated to pre-game handshakes and Rolexes.

It should be noted that testimonials are much more of a club phenomenon, a carryover from the old days when such matches were used to provide players with some funds to retire on. Obviously those days are long gone and testimonials are usually now more about honoring players and raising money for charity. It happens on the club level all the time. The national team level? Not so much.

Should national team legends receive more? Would you go to a friendly honoring a player like McBride or Kasey Keller? Is there an American player you'd like to see be honored with such a match? Think the whole idea is cheesy?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. not even Dempsey? Howard? Those are the only other two I could really see it happening for. Dempsey’s had similar success to McBride at Fullham, and Howard’s one of the best goalies in the world, and one of the best in a long line of great American keepers. Those are the only other two I could see it being an option for.

  2. Didn’t we do this recently for Tony Meola?

    Hey look, do farewell games work for the USMNT? I don’t know. But Brazil does things differently. If they want to honor their phenomenon, who are we to criticize?

  3. +1

    If Friedel had stuck with the national team for a few more years, even if only until say after the 2007 Gold Cup or so, he would deserve it. As it stands, no way.

    It should be reserved for guys who wore the shirt for a long period of time and had to have it ripped off their backs.

  4. Do you have a source for this?

    My opinion of our soccer federation would skyrocket if they offered, and as much as I would have loved to see it, it’s typical classy and humble McBride to decline.

    If anyone deserves such a game, it’s McBride. Next would be Donovan. No one else who is currently playing has reached that level for us, imo.

  5. I just thought it was disgusting when they asked Bob Bradley about the idea of calling up McBride back in October he said he will ”think about it” .. think about what exactly? Thats basically a spit in the face of Brian’s career that he said he was gonna have to ‘think’ about it. He didnt need it though, he is was and always will be one of the greatest professionals to ever grace this earth

  6. there should be a “mobile” hall of fame/walk of fame that travels to each US venue. when folks are added there is a prematch ceremony in thier honor. We do have heros and a legacy that our fans should know more about.

    One day if/when the NATS get a “home stadium” the hall of fame can be a feature of the stadium. ntil then, we need to teach the children (think of the children!)

  7. @northzax (sorry – reply isn’t working for me) I get your point, and agree to an extent — you shouldn’t throw around the honor to any National Team vet — but the standard of excellence on the Brazilian National Team is clearly higher than it is on the USMNT. Landon Donovan, at the end of his career, will probably prove to be as important to American soccer as Ronaldo was to Brazil.

  8. I have no problem with them, as long as the player meets the following minimum guidelines:

    a: 120+ caps in A matches
    b: 2 World Cup best XI
    b (2): winning goal (or shutout for keeper) in World Cup Final
    c: two Ballon d’Or.

    what? not even Ronaldo meets those? then never mind. but seriously, he is a special case, the exception that proves the rule. when you are Ronaldo, you get a farewell match on the national level. but not unless you are Ronaldo.

  9. I don’t mean to give anyone a hard time, but it’s clear that some people slightly overrate the importance of friendly matches. For the right player, I’m all for this idea.

  10. I dont think McBride is the type to want a ‘consolation game’ in his honor. He would have liked to play in a real game and have it be his last.

  11. Yeah, I’m saying this is supercheese. Perhaps a nice half time ceremony some years on, but to honor a person retiring from the game with a game seems a bit silly.

  12. +1

    Let them come on the field, get the applause and the Rolex, name a snackbar in their honor, whatever.

    But ever time our MNT has the opportunity to play as a group against an opponent, we HAVE to focus on the future. We need to give minutes to players who will help us going forward. If the retiring star is the best or most appropriate player we have for a position, sure, give it to him and call it his farewell game. But 99 times out of 100, it will be better to our future to give his spot to someone else.

  13. No. Stupid idea. I know I’m in the minority on this. If you want to have a farewell for someone, then write an article about them, or have them come on the field during halftime.


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