Given that Fulham’s former American hero Brian McBride will be returning to Craven Cottage for Saturday’s game against Portsmouth, it seems appropriate to take a look back at his Fulham career. He was a rather low-key replacement for Louis Saha but noone was berating Chris Coleman for putting faith in a hardworking striker from Arlington Heights by the time his Fulham career came to a close, ironically enough on the pitch at Fratton Park after our Great Escape a couple of years ago.
You will all have your own great memories of McBride, both as a player and a man. He scored plenty of important goals, but none was perhaps more crucial than his spectacular overhead kick that gave Fulham a priceless lead against Pompey in a do-or-die encounter at the Cottage in early April 2005. It was a game Coleman’s side looked like losing, having trailed for a long time to a first half strike from Lomana LuaLua, and then missing a penalty through Steed Malbranque. Andrew Cole hauled Fulham back level, but it was when McBride – still being used as a substitute ocassionally at this point – replaced Claus Jensen that the home side really went for.
He produced a quite brilliant overheaded kick, which was a wonderful piece of improvisation after a mistake by Arjan de Zeeuw and some hesitancy from goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown gave him a sight of goal. It was hardly the kind of agility you’d expect from an ageing forward never blessed with any great pace but, as we know, McBride never gave a second thought to putting his body on the line. You can see the goal at about 0:50 into this video, which might bring a few more memories flooding back:
Fulham went on to win 3-1 and comfortably avoid the drop in the end, thrashing the unfortunate Norwich 6-0 in the sunshine on the last day of the season, with McBride instrumental again.
Let’s hope Brian gets a deserved standing ovation when he walks out at half time on Saturday. He certainly gave us plenty to cheer.