If anyone knows what USA international Clint Dempsey is going through at Fulham, it's former USA international and Fulham forward Brian McBride.
Having spent four seasons with the London club, during which time he earned a good portion of his 96 USA caps, McBride is well-versed in the star player that has blossomed at Craven Cottage over the last handful of seasons.
With Dempsey's future at his current club uncertain, McBride thinks that if the 29-year-old were to move to Liverpool like many suggest, he would undoubtedly excel with the storied club.
"If you’re asking me if I think Clint can succeed [at Liverpool]? For sure," McBride told Goal.com. "He’s got not only the talent and the ability but he’s a very determined individual. He adapts extremely well to so many different situations.
"Take Fulham for example. He’s had four or five different coaches. He’s always put his head down and showed them what he’s made of. I think that’s a sign of not only a very good player but one that is able to adapt and make the transition regardless of who the manager is.”
McBride, who is currently playing with Wembley FC, a FA Cup-only squad comprised of non-league players and former top flight players, is extremely proud of how far Americans abroad, like Dempsey, have come since his career in Europe ended with his departure from Fulham in 2008.
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“They’ve really grown," said McBride of the Americans that followed in his footsteps. "They’ve done extremely well. There’s a little bit more talk of Sacha [Kljestan]. He did really well last year [with Anderlecht] and is starting off well this season, too. The growth from the American soccer player standpoint is awesome to see. I think everyone has done really well with the challenges. You see guys like Team Ream last season and Geoff Cameron going over and making that transition. I think Geoff is going to do extremely well.”
He credits this advancement to the current crop of players being able to lean heavily on the experiences of players in his generation for guidance. McBride, after a short time playing in Milwaukee, moved direct to VFL Wolfsburg for a short time before an extended period with the Columbus Crew.
Gaining that knowledge, according to McBride, is priceless asset for any American player considering a club career in Europe.
“The international American soccer player is a little more prepared than when we were coming through," he added. "They have people they can talk to more readily. When I moved over there, we had four or five people you could talk to about those transition.
"Having the experience at the national team level and then sitting and talking with people like Claudio [Reyna], Kasey [Keller], Brad [Friedel] and Tim [Howard]. Even guys like Clint and Jozy. Guys have much more to pull from and that has done nothing but help the players.”
The success at club level has also benefited the progression of the U.S. national team. Singling out a player who plays a position he knows well, McBride lauded the development of striker Jozy Altidore, who now plays for AZ Alkmaar, while acknowledging that the national team as a whole is improving under Jurgen Klinsmann.
“Jozy has definitely grown," McBride said of the 22-year-old. "For a young player making that transition to Europe, it’s hard. Speaking from my personal experience, when I went to Germany basically right out of college, it was a tough move. It’s always going to be a tough transition for anyone who is young. He’s shown grown and determination and that’s what you want to see.”
“I do see it [the U.S. national team] going in the right direction. I’m a fan now. I've played and been a part of that team but my feelings are positive and I hope they continue to be positive. For me, the best part of what’s going on is the integration of both the youth system and the full national team. It’s something that will help U.S. Soccer grow, not only as a large group but it’ll give the younger players platforms and ideas of what is to come.”
Despite keeping tabs on the USA and his former clubs, the 40-year-old McBride is focused on Wembley FC at the moment and is happy to share his expertise with others at the lower levels of the game.
“My mindset going through this is that I’ve been trying to get involved with grassroots soccer and Budweiser helped make the connection. I get a chance to do some coaching and some mentoring at a lower league level and really get to see the passion that goes into the game itself. These guys go through the same amount of training but still have jobs and have to work through all those different aspects.”
The progress of Wembley FC in this season’s FA Cup is to be shown as part of a documentary series to be broadcast on NBC Sports on Tuesday nights at 8 pm Eastern (5 pm Pacific) beginning Aug 21. The eight part series entitled “Dream. On. The Journey of Wembley FC” chronicles the life of grassroots soccer in the UK, looking at the non-league side and the signing of a number of household names within the squad and staff. Check out the trailer for the show right here!