By Amy Tennery
(Reuters) – New general manager Brian McBride envisages a promising future for the U.S. national men’s team as they seek to improve upon their international performances and qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games.
McBride, named to the GM position last week, told reporters on Monday that the team was in a period of transition, with a large group of new, younger players all enjoying the fresh perspective of head coach Gregg Berhalter.
“There have definitely been times when we’ve been lacking in some things,” McBride said.
“Seeing what Gregg is doing inside the camp here, and how complex, and the ideas that he’s putting across for the players and the buy-in from the players, I think you’re going to see a lot of positive things moving forward.”
The team has struggled in international competition in recent years, failing to qualify for the last two Olympics and the 2018 World Cup finals.
Berhalter became head coach in December 2018 and his main focus for now is on the Olympic qualifying competition in March.
“It’s a big year for us. We’ve got a limited amount of games and time together,” said McBride.
“Certainly for those players overseas, that time and those windows are really going to be an extreme necessity to build what Gregg wants to put together.”
The 47-year-old McBride, whose contract runs through the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, earned 95 U.S. caps and played in three World Cups. The former striker was the first overall pick in Major League Soccer’s first-ever draft in 1996.
Selected from 20 candidates, he is expected to focus on developing talent and guiding “the culture within the men’s national team environment,” according to U.S. Soccer.
McBride, who has no formal GM experience, said his leadership experience from his playing days, which featured a five-season spell at Fulham in England’s Premier League, would guide him.
“I haven’t managed a club before,” McBride acknowledged.
“But I’m going to rely on my understanding of soccer, understanding of players, understanding of high-performance situations, whether it’s been at a club, whether it’s been at a national team level.”
(Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by Ian Chadband)