Brian McBride is coming home to Major League Soccer. To be completely honest, this makes me happier than hearing David Beckham or Cuauhtemoc Blanco were joining the league -- even more so than when ex-U.S. captain Claudio Reyna came home.
Simply put, McBride is pure class. He's without ego, a tireless hard worker, ageless and a proven goal-scorer. In short, he is perhaps the best export MLS has ever sent out into the big leagues of Europe. Having him come home is a surefire sign that we've come full circle and that the league has garnered enough international success that one of its children thinks it's worth his time to finish his career here.
Yes, McBride isn't a young kid -- he's 35 -- but he is by no means finished. Despite his injury problems with his knees, the Chicago-area native can still score and is the kind of aerial threat MLS is lacking (apologies to Brian Ching). He became a folk hero at Fulham for his work ethic and willingness to sacrifice his own body to help his team.
Now the big question: Where is McBride headed? Toronto FC has first dibs in the player-allocation pool, but could you really see McBride going there? He told SI.com last May that, when the time came to head home, he wouldn't mind ending up with his hometown Fire. But Chicago has virtually no cap space and would have to trade for a second designated-player spot (Blanco occupies its current one).
Columbus? Possibly. McBride enjoyed enormous success with the Crew during his eight seasons in MLS, scoring 62 goals while wearing the gold-and-black. But Sigi Schmid has finally found a winning combination in Columbus and might be loath to tinker with it. But how much would you love to see McBride in front of goal, heading in crosses from Guillermo Barros Schelotto?
So where else could McBride go? One thing I do know -- he wouldn't be coming home to MLS without some sort of understanding from a team of his choosing. And no matter where he goes, he's without question deserving of a designated-player spot. My guess is Toronto FC signs him as a DP and trades him to Chicago, perhaps for a package of players including Chris Rolfe. Stay tuned.