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Fire's McBride reaches another MLS milestone
By Orrin Schwarz | Daily Herald Staff

New York Red Bulls defender Mike Petke watches as Fire forward Brian McBride does a bicycle kick during their MLS match last month.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 4/29/2010 4:30 PM

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In 1996, Brian McBride of Arlington Heights was the first pick in the inaugural Major League Soccer Draft.

Fourteen years later, most of them spent with the Columbus Crew and London's Fulham, McBride is set to play his 200th MLS game Saturday night with the Fire when it hosts Chivas USA.

"It's great to be playing soccer still, regardless of how many games I've played," the Buffalo Grove High School graduate said.

Back then he was a youngster out of St. Louis University happy to break into the newly formed league, which didn't even have a Chicago team then. Now he's 37 years old, in the twilight of his playing career and happy to be back home.

"Hopefully, I have added quality in every year here," he said. "Probably the one area I can't do much about is the speed part, but that's never been really my game. I'm always learning, so I hope I'm adding stuff still."

With the Fire having switched to a 4-5-1 formation the past couple of games, with success, McBride probably will continue alternating up top with former strike partner Collins John. Against D.C. United John started and McBride came off the bench for a goal and an assist. Against Houston last weekend, McBride started and John replaced him in the 61st minute.

Coach Carlos de los Cobos said Wednesday that after two straight wins McBride and John will continue to alternate.

"We are playing good," de los Cobos said, adding he likes having five players in the midfield even if it means just one striker. "We have a very good midfield. We arrive frequently to the other box."

Known for being the consummate pro, McBride isn't about to argue.

"I'm a part of the team," he said. "However coach sees myself being a part, I'm going to do that. It doesn't change how I feel about myself. I believe in myself. But I'm here to be a team player and help the team. As long as we're getting results it's great."

Actually, the extra time off might work to McBride's benefit. In addition to the 30-game MLS schedule, the Fire has two matches in the Sister Cities International Cup, against Paris St.-Germain and either Legia Warsaw or Red Star Belgrade, plus a friendly against AC Milan, all coming up in late May. Later in the summer the team also will compete in SuperLiga and the U.S. Open Cup.

"The rest will be a good thing," he said.

After more than 500 games combining his pro and national team career, that's understandable.