Brian McBride - MLS Homegrown game 2017
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USMNT legend Brian McBride aims to make a mark on youth development

When Brian McBride was a teenager, he didn't have the same opportunities as kids these days. There were no academies and there was no MLS. In fact, when he was 16, he got cut from his state team.

That's okay — McBride turned out fine. He made 95 appearances with the US national team as well as a glittering club career including stops with Columbus Crew SC, Fulham and the Chicago Fire.

Now, as player identification and development is on  in the United States, McBride is focused on ensuring that no player falls through the cracks.

“Youth development is hugely important," McBride explained to MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday on behalf of Allstate. "We’re starting to get the infrastructure correct, but there are places in the country that don’t have the infrastructure. It’ll be great to recognize some of the players that might not necessarily get recognized. Allstate has been a big supporter in youth soccer for a very long time. They’ve sponsored U.S. Soccer, MLS and the Gold Cup. One of the things Allstate has shown is that they really want to help youth soccer in this country.”

McBride is hands on with those aspirations. He, Taylor Twellman, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain, are coaching a select group of high school juniors around the MLS All-Star Game in Orlando this year. They will run two boys and girls teams for games on July 31 at noon and 2 pm ET then, that evening, the MLS All-Stars will face Atletico Madrid. 

“For me, I’m honored to coach a group of high school players that may not have had the opportunity to play academy soccer but are exceptional players that can one day reach higher than where they’re at right now," McBride said. "The infrastructure side of it is great, but still don’t want to forget about other aspects of growth.”

When players are identified, McBride thinks the most important stage of development is training in a professional environment. 

“There’s more integration in the first team trainings," McBride said. "For players to step into a practice field for a professional team, it’s a huge jump. Now, with the integration of some of these academy teams and players getting more opportunities to jump into training, that transition is much more seamless. More teams are bringing youth players to preseason, that’s beneficial to the growth of that player."

McBride, who is fifth all-time on the USMNT scoring charts with 30, is looking forward to what if growth can show on the world stage as the US U-20 side prepares for the U-20 World Cup later in May.

“I’m excited. It’s a group of players that have professional experience and done well at past youth tournaments," McBride said. "You couple that with a coach that understands the group extremely well, I can see them going very far.”

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