If you walk into my garage, you'll find a few quirky sports pictures that I really like on an old bulletin board. They are a testament to certain moments in time. One picture that you'll find right by Zindane's famous head butt is Brian McBride's bloody face in the 2006 World Cup.
Today Brian McBride was named as the General Manager of the United States Men's National Soccer team. No American was a better symbol of American toughness in the World Cup than McBride.
Top Moments from 2006 World Cup: "When the U.S. met Italy, everyone expected a lop-sided match. But it turned out to be a physical, bruising affair. Both teams were taken down to 10 men, but the moment we all remember was an elbow thrown to the head of Brian McBride. Of course Daniele de Rossi deserved to have his night cut short by the incident, but what we didn’t expect was to see Brian McBride turn to the camera, looking like a battered prizefighter."
"And then the Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda began, in the words of the Associated Press report on the game, “flashing red cards at a pace seldom seen in World Cup play,” sending off Daniele De Rossi in the 28th minute for a nasty challenge to McBride that required three stitches to his left cheek. In the 45th minute, Mastroeni was sent off for a cleats-up challenge to Pirlo. Mastroeni said afterward, ”I think that foul anywhere in the world is a yellow card.” Two minutes into the second half Pope was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for a tackle in which he first won the ball and then took down Gilardino. The rest of the match would be played nine on ten."- Philly Soccer Page
You see McBride's Face? He finished that game and was one of the nine brave Americans that held Italy to a tie. Despite being eliminated by Ghana in their next contest, the Americans played ferocious soccer. You know who won that 2006 World Cup? Italy. Brian McBride and the Americans stood toe to toe with the best team in the world that year.
Brian McBride wasn't the biggest, or the fastest, soccer player across his entire career, but he was tenacious. I remember him fighting for position while looking for crossing headers at nearly every game I saw him play with both the National Team and the Columbus Crew.
That doesn't necessarily translate to a good GM, but guess what? In the last World Cup cycle, the most populous nation in the Western Hemisphere missed the international tournament partly because they were run by a schlub. I think the leadership structure of Ernie Stewart and Brian McBride will change the mentality of the U.S. National Team.
And getting a symbol of American Toughness is a good first step.