United-Fire Preview

Brian McBride is about to end a 17-year career that has made him

one of the United States’ most successful soccer players in a

special place.

McBride will play his final home game Saturday night for the

Chicago Fire when they host D.C. United in a matchup of teams

finishing up disappointing seasons.

Chicago (8-12-8) will miss the playoffs for the first time in

six years while D.C. (6-19-3) has endured a miserable season with a

league-low 21 points, but the failed campaigns of these proud

franchises that have combined to win five MLS Cups will take a back

seat Saturday with the focus squarely on McBride.

The striker, who grew up in suburban Chicago, spent a season in

Germany with VfL Wolfsburg before joining MLS to play for Columbus

from 1996-2004. McBride’s stature grew following a successful

four-year stint with English Premier League club Fulham, which

named a pub after him at home stadium Craven Cottage.

McBride was also a longtime standout for the United States

national team. He played on three World Cup teams and is third on

the U.S. scoring list with 30 goals.

After leaving Fulham, McBride returned to Chicago to finish his

career. He announced his retirement earlier this season, and will

be honored in pregame, halftime and postgame ceremonies

Saturday.

“My thoughts are firstly on the game and making sure we’re

prepared,” McBride said. “Secondly, it’s going to be a special

time. There’s going to be a lot of friends and family there. My

wife is putting a lot of work into trying to make it special and so

is the Fire and people surrounding the Fire.”

McBride has earned plaudits from numerous coaches and teammates

for his dominant aerial play, team spirit and toughness. His

professionalism has been on display even in a dismal year for the

Fire.

“I always say the same thing to all the players: ‘Be like Brian

McBride,'” coach Carlos de los Cobos said. “Even now, he is still

the first person out there in practice.”

McBride is second on the team with five goals. He scored in a

2-0 victory over Columbus last Friday in the opener of this

three-game homestand, although the Fire lost 2-0 to Kansas City on

Tuesday.

D.C. will have numerous players back after being short-handed in

last Saturday’s 2-0 home loss to San Jose. Montenegro midfielder

Branko Boskovic and Trinidad and Tobago defender Julius James will

return from international duty while midfielder Andy Najar will be

back from a suspension.

“I am not freaking out about this game, believe me,” interim

coach Ben Olsen said after the loss. “We’ll gonna get some guys

back for Chicago and we’ll try and end it, try and end this season

in a positive way.”

MLS all-time leading scorer Jaime Moreno is suspended after

being sent off against the Earthquakes.

McBride and Marco Pappa scored in Chicago’s 2-0 victory at RFK

Stadium on April 17.