BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Brian McBride, whose scoring touch and tenacity earned him fans on both sides of the Atlantic, is calling it a career.
The 38-year-old McBride said Friday he will retire at the end of the season, his third with his hometown Chicago Fire.
"It was time for me," McBride said. "It was something that I felt I wanted to do, not so much that that I can't keep playing. It was time for a new segment of life and a different career."
McBride has 78 goals and 51 assists in 11 years with Chicago and Columbus, where he still shares the Crew record for goals scored. He ranks third on the U.S. national team's all-time scoring list, and was so beloved at Fulham that the English Premier League team named a stadium bar after him.
McBride had three goals in three World Cup appearances for the United States, and was the first American to score in more than one tournament (1998 and 2002). His 30 goals in a U.S. uniform trail only Landon Donovan (45) and Eric Wynalda (34). McBride retired from international play after the 2006 World Cup, though he returned as one of the United States' three older players at the 2008 Olympics.
"Soccer has given me the chance to travel to so many amazing places and experience so many emotions," he said. "I know it has helped to form so much of who I am."
McBride, an All-American at St. Louis, was the No. 1 pick in Major League Soccer's first draft. He scored 62 goals and had 45 assists in eight years with the Crew, and his ability to create goals seemingly out of nothing caught the eye of English scouts. He was loaned out twice by MLS, first to Preston North End in 2000 and then to Everton two years later, scoring five goals in 17 games.
He left Columbus for good in January 2004, transferring to Fulham, and endeared himself to fans immediately by scoring in his first appearance for the Cottagers. He had 40 goals in 4½ years at Fulham, and led the team in scoring in 2006-07. He was named captain in August 2007, a rare honor for an American, and his return from injury is credited with sparking a remarkable late-season rally that saved Fulham from relegation.
McBride missed most of the 2007-08 season with a ruptured quadriceps and dislocated kneecap. After "Captain Courageous" returned, the Cottagers won four of their last five games to keep their spot in the Premier League. Though Fulham wasn't able to lure him back for another season, it renamed the bar at Craven Cottage "McBride's" as a tribute to his contributions.
Since joining the Fire in July 2008, the Arlington Heights, Ill., native has scored 16 goals and led Chicago to back-to-back appearances in the Eastern Conference finals.
Asked what he will do next, he said managing a team was not "my focus."
"I won't say never because I have such a passion for the game and I think I have a few things in my head that can help people," he said.