Brian McBride exclusive with US-Bookies:
Following the MLS season’s opening round, we have spoken with the former Fulham, Everton and USA Men’s National Soccer Team forward Brian McBride. The former Premier League goal scorer gave us his thoughts on the MLS season, including his thoughts on which teams look ready to challenge for the cup and what we can expect from up and coming players in the US, including Josh Sargent and Tyler Adams.
- Pulisic will adapt well to the speed of the Premier League
- Josh Sargent is going to be the next rising US talent
- Tyler Adams has huge potential and reminds me of former team-mate
- The main goal for US Soccer is to qualify for the World Cup
- It’ll be fun to see how the young players develop under Berhalter
- MLS infrastructure is growing, and owners are realizing this
- Atlanta are leading the way in the MLS development
- LA Galaxy are going to be contenders for MLS Cup this year
- CJ Sapong can offer a new dimension to Chicago Fire
Pulisic will adapt well to the speed of the Premier League
With the speed of the Premier League, I think Christian Pulisic will fit in and settle in well. He adapted very well as a young player in Germany and in the Champions League. He hasn’t shown any weaknesses so far.
Right now, he’s probably not in the best form of his career as he isn’t playing each week, but the talent is there and his though process is very quick. He’s a very mature young player and has a desire to continually improve. When you have that kind of mentality, you can deal with the physicality in the Premier League and at a team like Chelsea this will help him settle in.
Josh Sargent is going to be the next rising US talent
I’m a big fan of Josh Sargent, young centre forward, extremely good with his understanding of runs and puts himself in great positions. He’s a player, who understands movement and has the ability to finish.
He has all the attributes you want in a forward, the ability to hold the ball up. But people forget how good a passer of the ball he is. His movement is exceptional, and along with the composure to score goals. You can fine-tune these skills, but he has it from the get go.
Tyler Adams has huge potential and reminds me of former team-mate
Tyler Adams is a very similar player to Chris Armas in his day. Tyler is a little better with the ball than Chris was but when you think about a player that can move box to box, his work-rate and energy is contagious. When he’s on the field, everyone else gets a lift because you know he’s a player that will be in the right position, cover the right spots and know that there’s not a ball that he doesn’t want to track down.
He came on as a substitute for RB Leipzig against Hoffenheim at half time and changed the game. He provided the running and penetration to help the team get the draw in that game. He is one of those players that can slot into a few different positions, but he does his best work from the centre of midfield. He’s a player that has an end product on top of excellent work rate.
The main goal for US Soccer is to qualify for the World Cup
The main goal for US Soccer is to qualify the World Cup. Obviously, it’s something that you do in steps. You make sure that the next international tournament you’re in, whether it’s the Gold Cup or high-quality friendlies, you want to see growth. For me, making sure that we have a centre back pairing that are able to play together for some time and form a partnership is important as it is something we haven’t had for quite some time now.
It’ll be fun to see how the young players develop under Berhalter
Gregg Berhalter has a lot of young talent coming through the squad and it’s going to be fun to see how they develop and fulfil more senior roles within the team. He’ll also have new players with the likes of Pulisic and Weston McKennie to work with.
MLS infrastructure is growing, and owners are realizing this
The biggest difference from my time in the MLS is the continued growth of the infrastructure. You’re seeing players being purchased for values similar to those in Europe and Mexico. This highlights how much the infrastructure for the stadiums and training facilities have developed. The value that outside clubs are finding in MLS is growing.
MLS owners are more willing to spend and invest more than ever in their club. The clubs that are investing in the club are doing well, whether in training facilities, or paying more money on transfer fees to bring better and young talent in. Like Atlanta have done and now DC United investing more. The value clubs get is growing through results and how MLS is looked at in general.
Atlanta are leading the way in the MLS development
Atlanta sold Almiron for substantial money, but they also bought the player of the year from South America, Pity Martinez. They’re one of the teams that aren’t afraid to spend, they know how to reinvest the money, whilst making a substantial amount from player sales. They’re one of the first clubs that have gone about and started the same premise that clubs in Portugal and Holland. Buying young players with talent with the goal of developing them.
LA Galaxy are going to be contenders for MLS Cup this year
LA Galaxy will be a very good side this year. You’ve got a motivated and determined Zlatan Ibrahimovic, you have Sebastian Lletget coming back from injury. He’s a player that works really well both sides of the ball. They’ve added a new central defender which is still probably their one question mark, but it was a huge problem last year and they’ve addressed it.
How will New York Red Bulls cover for selling Tyler Adams? A extremely talented player. If they’re able to cover that position they look strong again.
CJ Sapong can offer a new dimension to Chicago Fire
CJ Sapong fits in to the Chicago Fire team in a different way to Nemanja Nikolic. CJ Sapong adds a little bit more strength, he’s a bit more of a hold-up centre forward but still has pace. His addition adds another layer to the attack. Chicago Fire are stronger this year with the addition of CJ and defensive players. The defence struggled last year, but they’ve tightened things up. Hopefully they can improve on last season as it wasn’t a year that was looked on fondly.