McBride makes case for extended stay at Goodison

Everton 2 Sunderland 1
Click to follow
The Independent Football

When an American makes a British stadium rock, it usually means Bruce Springsteen or Guns n' Roses are strutting the stage. Brian McBride emulated his leather-lunged compatriots on his Goodison Park debut – and the reverberations reached all the way back to his native Midwest.

McBride scored twice during the irresistible second-half surge with which Everton overturned Sunderland's lead, his feats leaving him out of pocket as well as out of breath. For every goal, assist and victory he enjoys with the United States, with Columbus Crew or Everton, who have borrowed him for three months, the Chicagoan donates $100 to a diabetes charity in Ohio. Saturday's exploits added $300 to the $8,000 McBride has given them over the past three years.

It was, he observed, "money well spent". Not only is McBride helping to finance the fight against an affliction which contributed towards his grandfather's death, and affects his father-in-law, but he has swiftly endeared himself to Everton fans with three goals (as many as Wayne Rooney) in two starts since arriving as a stop-gap striker.

American crowds are usually too busy consuming statistics and burgers to muster much in the way of decibels, so the thunderous ovation McBride received on being substituted understandably moved him.

The 30-year-old McBride's pedigree makes him an unlikely idol on the Mersey beat. At 16, the age Rooney took the Premiership by storm, he was still a high-school student who followed ice hockey. Then came St Louis University, followed by a season in the German Second Division and some fashion modelling. Later there was an injury-ravaged loan spell with Preston North End, whose manager was one David Moyes. But either side of that he scored in two World Cups, which now appears an accurate measure of his ability.

Strong in the air and sound on the ground, McBride is also strikingly selfless. His ability to shield the ball with his back to goal, together with a tendency to let his socks slide, make him resemble a more dynamic version of Steve Claridge. For the player nicknamed "Bake", after baseball's Bake McBride, the finishing prowess was therefore the icing on the cake.

His first goal, an overhead kick, clipped Darren Williams on its way in and will probably be re-allocated as an own goal by a Football Association jobsworth. There was no doubting the authorship of the crisp, shrewdly placed drive which gave Everton only their second win in 11 matches. Stemming from a fine reverse pass by Canada's Tomasz Radzinski, it truly was made in North America.

Shame, then, that Moyes insisted that McBride must be back at Columbus for their season-opener on 1 April. The player himself said, perhaps revealingly, that they were not discussing anything more permanent "yet".

Either way, the timing of his heroics, the day after Rooney signed his much-vaunted contract, had a certain irony. Judging by McBride's rapport with the outstanding Radzinski, plus the presence of Kevin Campbell, the teenager is by no means sure of starting after his suspension.

What the Sunderland manager, Howard Wilkinson, would give for such an embarrassment of attacking riches. Kevin Phillips was back to his motivated and mobile best, making Kevin Kilbane's goal and being denied a potentially decisive second by Richard Wright's agility when the visitors led. However, the support from Tore Andre Flo was non-existent, the Norwegian's lethargy providing a bleak reminder of why he was so often merely a late substitute with Chelsea.

In Sunderland's predicament, Flo is an expensive luxury. No wonder they are the lowest scorers in the four divisions. At least Sunderland played more creatively than on their previous visit to Merseyside, a 0-0 draw at Liverpool, and in Sean Thornton, formerly of Tranmere Rovers, they have unearthed a midfield player with the confidence you might expect from one who sports a spiky, bleached crop.

"If we're going to win games, we've got to score goals," Wilkinson said. "And to do that we can't rely on luck every time. We've got to control games by controlling the ball, and to take responsibility like young Thornton has."

Goals: Kilbane (34) 0-1; McBride (51) 1-1; McBride (58) 2-1.

Everton (4-4-2): Wright 7; Pistone 7, Weir 6, Stubbs 6, Unsworth 6; Watson 7, Gemmill 7, Li Tie 6 (Gravesen 6, h-t), Naysmith 6; Radzinski 7, McBride 7 (Campbell 5, 74). Substitutes not used: Yobo, Pembridge, Gerrard (gk).

Sunderland (4-4-2): Sorensen 7; Williams 5, Craddock 6, Babb 3, McCartney 5; Thornton 6, McCann 6, Thirlwell 5 (Arca 6, 64), Kilbane 6; Phillips 7, Flo 2 (Proctor 5, 72). Substitutes not used: Gray, Thome, Macho (gk).

Referee: P Dowd (Stoke-on-Trent) 7.

Bookings: Everton: Gemmill, Weir. Sunderland: Craddock, McCann, Babb.

Man of the match: Radzinski.

Attendance: 37,409.