Chicago Fire striker Brian McBride's announcement last week that this would be his final season sparked tributes throughout the American soccer community as well as from England.
The tall striker, who played in three World Cups and did plenty to improve the image of U.S. players abroad during his tenure at Fulham FC, is one of the most respected American players of his generation, a fearless goalscorer who won over fans with the Columbus Crew -- he was the first player taken in the first MLS draft -- in 4½ seasons in London, and with the Fire after his return to MLS in 2008.
McBride, 38, scored 30 goals in 96 appearances with the U.S. team and, with goals in 1998 and 2002, became the first American to tally in two World Cups. He netted 40 at Fulham and 78 in MLS, but his goalscoring exploits are really a small part of what made him so special.
The integrity and humility in his game, his uncompromising work ethic and his willingness to sacrifice his body -- and more often his head -- for the good of his team endeared McBride to soccer fans, whether or not they supported his team.
He'll likely be remembered with the image of his bloodied face, after Daniele De Rossi's elbow shattered his nose during the Americans' 1-1 draw with Italy at the 2006 World Cup, just one of myriad injuries he sustained by sticking his head into places others wouldn't. Both cheekbones were fractured and a plate inserted, he suffered a displacement in his orbital bone and several concussions, and he had lost feeling on the right side of his face and was unable to smile naturally.
“I grew up playing so many sports,” he told me two years ago. “You just don't think about the possibility of something happening; you just do what you're supposed to do. Sometimes it comes out really good, and sometimes you take a whack.”
McBride is an iconic figure in American soccer, and the game is going to miss him.
SEISMIC SHIFT: Seattle's seven-game MLS unbeaten streak and its hold on the No. 6 seed in the playoff chase disappeared in a 3-1 loss at New England, which scored three goals in 12 minutes after an incident between Revs captain Shalrie Joseph and Sounders defender Patrick Ianni.
Ianni, a former UCLA standout, appeared to step on one of Joseph's feet, and the midfielder replied with a slap that sent Ianni tumbling to the turf. That led to a long scrum with players from both sides, and Joseph was fortunate not to get a red card -- referee Silviu Petrescu didn't even pull out a yellow.
The incident emboldened the Revolution, which quickly equalized through Chris Tierney, went ahead on a Marko Perovic strike three minutes later, and extended the advantage on Kheli Dube's goal eight minutes after that.
Both sides credited the tête-a-tête, and Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller called the aftermath the “worst 10 minutes” of the Sounders' season.
“I thought we were OK until … the altercation,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid (Torrance/Bishop Montgomery HS and UCLA) told reporters afterward. “At that point, I thought we lost our composure a little bit and gave away a couple of goals that we shouldn’t have given away. Obviously, the game turned, and they scored their chances, and the game was over.”
Tierney said the scrum “lifted us, if anything,” and Sounders goalscorer Steve Zakuani called it “the turning point.”
“There was like a five-, six-minute delay, and we just scored, and after that, I think we maybe -- as our coach told us -- lost our composure a little bit,” Zakuani told reporters. “We tried to get it back, but they just really built off that.”
The Sounders could have used the three points. Their schedule is heavy, with CONCACAF Champions League matches and the U.S. Open Cup final, and their next two league foes -- Real Salt Lake on Thursday night and Columbus next week -- offer little margin for error.
THE SHIELD: The Columbus Crew matched the Galaxy's record -- both are 13-5-5 -- with a 1-0 win at D.C. United, and L.A. remains ahead in the Supporters' Shield race only because of its 2-0 victory in Columbus back in May.
The Galaxy and Crew meet Saturday night at Home Depot Center, and L.A. can retain the tiebreaker with a win, draw or one-goal loss. Of course, a one-goal loss would give Columbus a three-goal edge with six games to play.
The Supporters' Shield goes to the team with the best regular-season record -- Columbus won it last year, after winning the MLS title in 2008 -- and the victor gets a berth (and bye into the group stage) in the CONCACAF Champions League.
The Crew toppled D.C. courtesy of Bill Hamid's error in the 23rd minute. The D.C. goalkeeper's whiffed on the ball after a poor first touch from a back pass, and Guillermo Barros Schelotto tucked it home. D.C., at 4-16-3 MLS's worst side, put no shots on target and were shut out for the 15th time, tying Toronto FC's record from 2007, the Reds' inaugural season.
ODDS AND ENDS: Omar Cummings is MLS's Player of the Week after scoring two fine goals and setting up Conor Casey's in Colorado's 3-0 rout of Chivas USA. … Brazilian playmaker Geovanni made his first start for San Jose count, setting up Khari Stephenson for a goal and scoring the second-half winner in the Quakes' 2-1 triumph at Houston. The win increased San Jose's lead over Kansas City and Toronto FC to five points in the race for the final playoff berth. … Real Salt Lake equaled Columbus' record 22-game home unbeaten streak by beating New York, 1-0. Nick Rimando (Montclair HS/UCLA) made big saves on two Juan Pablo Angel headers and midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Andy Williams cleared shots off the line for the Utahns. … Jeff Cunningham scored his 129th regular-season MLS goal, just three off D.C. United forward Jaime Moreno's record, to lift FC Dallas past Toronto FC, 1-0, extending the Hoops' unbeaten streak to 13 games. … Davy Arnaud's bending cross/shot, which cleared Philadelphia goalkeeper Chris Seitz's head in a 1-1 draw with Kansas City, might spell the end of the former Real So Cal star's tenure as the Union's starter in the nets. Seitz, who graduated from Thousand Oaks High School, has given up several soft goals this season. … Chivas USA's Sal Zizzo (UCLA) will throw out the first pitch Tuesday at the San Diego Padres' game against the Dodgers at Petco Park. Chivas plays the original Chivas, Club Deportivo Guadalajara, at Petco a week later.
Past week’s scores (home teams listed first)
Chicago 1 (John 88), L.A. Galaxy 1 (Gonzalez 91+)
Colorado 3 (Casey 52, Cummings 68, 81), Chivas USA 0
Philadelphia 1 (Le Toux 33), Kansas City 1 (Arnaud 69)
New England 3 (Tierney 70, Perovic 73, Dube 81), Seattle 1 (Zakuani 59)
D.C. United 0, Columbus 1 (Schelotto 23)
FC Dallas 1 (Cunningham 47), Toronto FC 0
Real Salt Lake 1 (Espindola 4), New York 0
Houston 1 (Davis 47+), San Jose 2 (Stephenson 6, Geovanni 64)
Western Conference: L.A. Galaxy 44 points, Real Salt Lake 43, FC Dallas 40, Colorado Rapids 34, Seattle Sounders FC 32, San Jose Earthquakes 22, Houston Dynamo 23, Chivas USA 22
Eastern Conference: Columbus Crew 44 points, New York Red Bulls 37, Kansas City Wizards 27, Toronto FC 27, Chicago Fire 25, New England Revolution 24, Philadelphia Union 21, D.C. United 15
Playoff race: 1. L.A. Galaxy 44, 2. Columbus 44, 3. Real Salt Lake 43, 4. FC Dallas 40, 5. New York 37, 6. Colorado 34, 7. Seattle 32, 8. San Jose 32. Just behind: 9. Kansas City 27, 10. Toronto FC 27, 11. Chicago 25, 12. New England 24.
This week's games (all times Pacific)
Toronto FC at Chicago, 5:30 p.m.
Real Salt Lake at Seattle, 8 p.m.
New England at Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m.
D.C. United at Toronto FC, 1 p.m.
Colorado at New York, 1 p.m.
Chicago at Philadelphia, 3 p.m.
FC Dallas at San Jose, 7 p.m.
Columbus at L.A. Galaxy, 7:30 p.m.
1. Edson Buddle (L.A. Galaxy) 13
2. Juan Pablo Angel (New York) 12
3. Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia) 10
Fredy Montero (Seattle) 10
5. Conor Casey (Colorado) 9
Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC) 9
7. Justin Braun (Chivas USA) 8
Omar Cummings (Colorado) 8
Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas) 8
Kei Kamara (Kansas City) 8
Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake) 8
Chris Wondolowski (San Jose) 8
Steve Zakuani (Seattle) 8
1. Landon Donovan (L.A. Galaxy) 12
2. Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia) 10
3. Bobby Convey (San Jose) 9
David Ferreira (FC Dallas) 9
Fredy Montero (Seattle) 9
6. Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus) 8
7. Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake) 7
Patrick Nyarko (Chicago) 7
Ryan Smith (Kansas City) 7
Michael Stephens (L.A. Galaxy) 7
Past week's results (home teams listed first)
SuperLiga final: New England 1 (Alston 79), Morelia (Mexico) 2 (Sabah pen. 65, 75)
U.S. Open Cup semifinal: D.C. United 1 (Hernandez pen. 13), Columbus 2 (og Burch 89, Schelotto pen. 98), OT
U.S. Open Cup semifinal: Seattle 3 (Jaqua 10, 92+, Montero 58), Chivas USA 1 (Padilla 68)
Friendly: Philadelphia 1 (McInerney 46), Guadalajara (Mexico) 0