Toronto FC pursuing Brian McBride
Brian McBride is coming home to Major League Soccer, and Toronto could be where he lands.
McBride's contract with English Premier League club Fulham expired at the end of the 2007-08 season and the veteran American forward announced this week he was leaving the London team after four years to return to MLS.
The Chicago native played for the Columbus Crew from 1996 until 2004 and was a seven-time all-star before signing with Fulham.
The Chicago Fire are just one of many MLS suitors said to be interested in McBride, but Toronto FC has the first chance to sign him to a contract because the Canadian club owns his allocation rights. However, if Toronto can't ink McBride to a deal, it could still trade him to another MLS team.
Toronto FC general manager Mo Johnston told reporters Thursday that while he is very interested in signing McBride, he also confirmed he's talking to other MLS teams to see what he could get in exchange for the former Fulham star.
"We're exploring every avenue. Obviously, we have the allocation slot, so we'll look at it, we'll be speaking to several clubs and see how it goes," Johnston said.
Asked what he would want in a trade for McBride, Johnston said, "We're looking for something very big."
Johnston admitted Toronto "needs another striker" and said McBride would be a good fit for the club.
"On and off the field, he would be a tremendous acquisition for any team. If you look at how he's performed in England, he's handled himself very well," said Johnston.
"He was the main factor in keeping Fulham [from getting relegated] this season. He's decided to come home, fortunately for us we have his rights, and we're sitting on a little pot of gold here."
The fact that McBride turns 36 next month doesn't decrease the American's value, according to the Toronto GM.
"He's in good condition. He's coming from the Premiership; he's not coming from a second-rate league," Johnston said.
A veteran of three World Cups with the U.S. national team, McBride dislocated his kneecap last summer but returned to action in February and played a big role in helping Fulham avoid relegation to the Championship, English soccer's second division.