Brian McBride

McBride the pride of Chicagoland

Chicago Fire doubleheader at Soldier Field. The USA and Poland will kick off the night's festivities at 6 p.m. CT, with the Fire and New England Revolution following in the nightcap at 8:30 p.m. was able to catch up with McBride following the USA's practice in Chicago on Wednesday, when he talked about coming home, the push towards Germany 2006 and his slightly longer commute these days between club and country. Welcome back to Chicago, Brian. How does it feel to be back in Chicagoland after your time in England?

Brian McBride: It feels great. I love this city. It's home, it's where I grew up and now we live back here, so it's great for our family to be around each other in a comfortable surrounding.

CF: I know you had a great affinity for Columbus, Ohio, where you lived for eight years while playing for the Crew. But how is it coming back and calling Chicago home?

BM: It's great. Columbus was an exceptional time; we had a lot of fun there. The city was not only great for us as a family, but the support soccer-wise was great. But the pull of the family is that much stronger. It's important for us to be close to our family, to have our girls play with their cousins and have things to do.

CF: You transferred to Fulham of the English Premiership during the last offseason and had great success during the final half of their season. What are the differences between playing in MLS and the Premiership?

BM: There are definitely some differences. The speed of play is quite fast and your ability to read the play and know what you're going to do before you have the ball is that much more important. Those things are big differences. Another difference is that soccer is something that has been engrained there for so long. I think MLS is getting to the point where everybody is understanding of what their job is and what that feeling is like.

CF: It seems like only yesterday you were helping the USA to its best finish ever in the FIFA World Cup at Korea/Japan 2002, and now the squad has already finished off one round of qualifying for Germany 2006. Talk about getting back into the qualifying process and what you have to focus on to get back to the Finals.

BM: I'm definitely looking forward to it. Anytime you start to qualify you really have to be prepared not just physically, but more mentally, especially for games on the road. Making sure you don't have any mental lapses throughout the process. This group of guys that Bruce [Arena] has put together is a large group now and I think that's only going to help us.

CF: During Korea/Japan 2002 you had the advantage of being based in the U.S. during qualifying, but now you'll have a slightly different commute for these important games. Do you think the back-and-forth travel will have much of an affect?

BM: It will be more difficult, sure. It's funny, you never see it like that when you're in the States. You look at it and say, 'Well, it's a few more flights.' But then you look at the schedule and think, 'Boy, that's quite a bit.' So I'm going to try to make sure that I'm mentally prepared and I get enough rest, but I'll enjoy it. I love being a part of this team.

CF: While the travel might be a downside, a good trade-off is that you get to play with and against some of the best players in the English Premiership every week. Do you think that, as more players from the U.S. get their chance to play in some of Europe's top leagues, that experience will help raise the level of play on the national team?

BM: You hope that's the way it works out. The thing for all of us is, no matter where you're playing, to make sure that when you do come in you focus on your job because there are different line-ups, different set-ups and different styles that guys are used to on their clubs. But that's something Bruce has put into us for some time now, making sure you come in and understand your role on this team.

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