Brian McBride had on more than one occasion in the past met with Jurgen Klinsmann about the possibility of taking on a role within U.S. Soccer. The problem then, however, was that the position Klinsmann wanted to offer McBride did not exist.
One does now, and McBride’s recent hiring for it means he holds considerable influence and power over the direction of the U.S. Men’s National Team.
McBride was named the USMNT general manager last Friday, but his appointment came with many questions as to what exactly his job entails. McBride and U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart provided a bit of clarity on that on Monday morning, stating that McBride is in charge of, among other things, helping instill more dignity into a program that has fallen on tough times in recent years.
“There was a need for some pride sometimes (last year),” said McBride, who will report directly to Stewart on a deal that runs through the 2022 World Cup. “I said this as a player and you’ve probably heard this from me before: When I didn’t have my full quality games, I made sure that I gave everything I possibly could and had pride in that.
“Sometimes we may have lacked a little bit of that effort and that could have been for many different reasons, whether they’re trying to play a certain way and accomplish things and not necessarily have that come off. But that’s something I think that I can help with, and that’s the culture side of things.”
A former USMNT striker with 95 caps and three World Cup appearances, McBride may have an idea for what it takes to compete on the field. He does not, however, have any previous managerial experience in professional soccer, be it at the club or international level.
That still did not stop Stewart from looking past 19 other candidates to hire the 47-year-old McBride, who in addition to his prolific USMNT career boasts a solid club resume that includes stops at the highest levels in the United States, England, and Germany.
“I haven’t managed a club before but I’m going to rely on my understanding of soccer, understanding of players, understanding of high performance situations, whether it’s been in a club or a national team level,” McBride said. “Then, basically work through the knowledge that I have there and help manage the situation. Whether it’s managing and bending the ear of (USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter) when I need to, whether it’s making sure that the players are getting what they need in camp. If not then I can help provide that, of course within parameters.
“Those things I have done before. I’ve done that as a captain of a team. Some of you might not understand think, ‘Wow, you’re just leading players,’ but in Europe it’s very much hands-on. You’re talking to the chairman, you’re talking to the people that are making decisions financially. I do have experience in that. It’s just not necessarily as a title of general manager.”
McBride’s responsibilities as GM are not just limited to helping instill an improved culture for a program that stunningly failed to reach the 2018 World Cup. While the former forward is not in charge of hiring and firing youth national team coaches — that responsibility remains Stewart’s — McBride is being tasked with creating and fostering relationships with players, managers, and clubs both domestically and internationally.
Additionally and not least important, McBride is in charge of suggesting whether to hire, re-sign or fire the senior USMNT head coach, though the final decision is not solely up to him.
“A single hiring and firing by one person is not something that you want to go with within an organization,” said Stewart. “Brian will be responsible for that, we’ll obviously have discussions with that with myself, and then we will bring that to the board (of directors) to make sure that is ratified.
“It’ll work the exact same way as done in the past, but now this decision is made by soccer people. Once again, Brian will lead that, we’ll have these discussions, and if needed we will act.”
McBride said during Monday’s conference call when answering a question about players that “experience is vital in everything,” but admittedly is lacking in that department as far as the USMNT general manager role goes.
Nonetheless, both he and Stewart believe McBride has what it takes to do the job and help lift the USMNT back to a more respectable level.
“If I didn’t think I could make an impact, I wouldn’t be the right person and I shouldn’t take the job,” said McBride. “Certainly, I feel like I can make a positive impact.”