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Soccer Pro Brian McBride This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Brian
McBride, an Illinois native born in 1972, is a forward on the U.S. Men's Soccer
Team. Hailed by many as the best American player ever, his six goals in World Cup
play are the second most in U.S. history (www.ussoccer.com).



How
long have you been playing soccer?


I've been playing since I was eight
years old.



Who inspired you to play when you were a kid? Did you
have any heroes or role models?


Really, no - I picked it up and played
because of friends. I enjoyed being involved in team sports and making close
friendships.



Did your parents push you to compete?

Not at
all - my mom supported me in every way, though. I was very much a sports jock so
she didn't have to push me in any way.


Did you play other
sports as well?


Growing up I took lessons and played just about
every sport you can think of!


How did soccer win out?

It
really came down to deciding between baseball and soccer. Soccer won out because
I enjoyed it more.


Who was your favorite coach growing up? What
did he or she expect of you?


I was fortunate to have a lot of good
coaches. They were all good in different ways, whether it was letting us have
fun, not necessarily showing us the game, but encouraging us, and making sure we
worked hard. I'd say my high-school coach, John Erford, was by far my biggest
mentor. He was like a father to me.


How did you feel about
competition versus just having fun?


I think competition is very important;
it breeds many good things in a person. I know a lot of people are now talking
about its negative aspects and how it degrades people who don't do well. But it's
just like high school, you know, competition weeds out the weaker kids. I think
everybody has something to add to this world. Competition helps people figure it
out. There might be too much emphasis on whether or not you win that day instead
of on improving as a young kid, but I think competition is important.



Are you superstitious when it comes to playing sports?

I
used to be, but not any more. Basically I say a few prayers before a game and let
that direct me, not superstitions.


What do you do to
"psyche" yourself up for a game?


You know, when you get to this
level, you have to be able to get yourself up for every game. You prepare
yourself by concentrating on what you have to do out on the
field.


What else do you like to do besides play soccer?

My
favorite sports are soccer, hockey and volleyball. Unfortunately, I don't get to
play a lot of hockey and volleyball during soccer season! I picked up golf - I'm
not the best at it, but I enjoy it. And, of course, I like to spend time with my
wife and my two-year-old daughter.


What have been the highlights
of your career so far?


Going to the last World Cup.


Didn't
you score the only U.S. goal in France?


Yes, and that was unfortunate! I
wish we had scored five or six goals!


What was your most
disappointing moment as a soccer player?


It was probably my sophomore year
at St. Louis University. We had a great team and played in the Final Four against
Virginia. In the first half they basically beat us down. They were up 1-0. In the
second half we just came out and took it to them in this semi-final match and
were up 2-1. With one minute and 20 seconds left, they scored and sent the game
into triple overtime. Then they won. This sent them on their winning steak of
four in a row!


What is it like to play for the U.S. Men's National
Team?


It's a great honor.


How is the team adjusting to
recent injuries?


You never want to see what happened to Chris Armas happen
- it really stinks. [Armas, probably the U.S.'s best mid-fielder, tore his ACL in
a World Cup warm-up match against Uruguay and missed the Cup].



What is it going to take to beat Portugal in the U.S.'s opening
World Cup game?


It is going to take us playing our best game and keeping
them off of theirs! And it's going to take a bit of luck! [U.S. beat Portugal
3-2.]


Will the team stick to one strategy for playing all the
teams or use a different strategy for each team?


We'll basically stay
with the same strategy.


What do you think of World Cup coach Bruce
Arena?


I think he is a great coach. He has the ability to get his point
across and tell us what he is trying to accomplish on the field. He is also able
to build the confidence and morale the team needs off the
field.


What are your goals as a player for the future?

My
goals are for the U.S. team to get to the second round of the World Cup and to
win a championship here in the U.S. with my club team the Columbus
Crew.


What advice would you give younger players?

The main
thing is that you need to enjoy it. Don't get to the point where you are close to
getting burned out. Keep enjoying it, and if you do that, then you are going to
get better. Put your head down and work as hard as you can because there is
always someone better out there. It doesn't matter whether it is in your city,
your state, your country or the world!






This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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