McBride recovers from blood disorder to lead Fulham.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
| Brian McBride is feeling better after suffering from a blood disorder and Fulham has benefitted with the American scoring goals in the Cottagers' last two outings.
-- Fulham FC web site photos --
(Tuesday, October 17, 2006) - United States striker Brian McBride is feeling better and back scoring key goals for Fulham in the English Premier League.
After the disappointment of the U.S. getting knocked prematurely out of the World Cup, McBride was given time off and did not report to training until just before the season started. He seemed to round into shape slowly and was in and out of manager Chris Coleman's lineup through the early matches. Now, it has been revealed that McBride was ailing, suffering from a bacterial strain in his blood stream caused by a dental problem.
McBride blamed his slow start to the season to not feeling well, always seeming to be fatigued. "I've had something for a long time. We were trying to figure out what it was," McBride said. "I wasn't recovering and was feeling a bit fatigued. It came to a head on Thursday when I just couldn't sleep.
It turned out that I needed a root canal. So some bacteria had probably been going through my blood for some time. It wasn't a huge amount and wasn't noticeable until Thursday, but it was good to get all that figured out. I've been feeling really good since."
McBride's turnaround started two weeks ago before a surprisingly small crowd of 17,982 at Vicarage Road Stadium where Watford seemed to be on its way to its first win of the season and its first Premiership victory since winning promotion back to the top division. He entered for Fulham in the 59th minute and sparked the London club to erase a two-goal deficit and draw 3-3.
McBride replaced Collins John on the front line with Watford ahead 2-0 and Fulham seemingly unable to generate any attack against a Hornets back-line led by American Jay DeMerit, who was again playing right back instead of his usual central position.
Fulham's comeback started almost immediately. Less then a minute after McBride entered, he made a clever reverse pass that found Heidar Helguson for a hard shot handled by goalkeeper Ben Foster, on loan to Watford from Manchester United. In the 64th minute, a long Fulham throw-in bounced through and off a knot of players and past Foster into the net, but the apparent goal was negated when McBride was ruled to have fouled the keeper.
With McBride pushing forward, Fulham applied pressure that paid dividends in the 71st minute. Watford defender Malky Mackay headed Fulham midfielder Wayne Routledge's right-wing cross down in the box and McBride reacted quickly to send a crisp volley beyond Foster from 10 yards to slim the Cottagers' deficit to within 2-1.
"Brian is starting to come into his own," Fulham manager ChrisColeman said. "It has taken a bit of time, but the goal was a fantastic finish."
Twelve minutes later, Helguson pulled Gulham even at 2-2 before the match took a strange turn.
In the 87th minute, two Watford defenders became tangled trying to clear a ball McBride sent into the penalty area. Watford midfielder Damien Francis came into clear the ball, but instead sent a low drive into his own net and suddenly the Cottagers led 3-2.
The advantage lasted two minutes as Hornets striker Ashley Young scored from 15 yards off a cross for the 3-3 final.
Watford went ahead 1-0 on a Marlon King goal in the 23rd minute. Then, 5 seconds into the second half, Watford doubled its lead to 2-0 on a goal from Ashley Young.
With his team doing little, Coleman began to make changes. He replaced U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra in the 53rd minute in favor of another striker. However, even adding Routledge to make a three-man front line did not marshal any kind of sustained attack until McBride entered..
McBride's resurgence continued yesterday when he scored the first of two goals in a two-minute span that gave Fulham a 2-1 decision over visiting Charlton Athletic before 19,129 at Craven Cottage.
He was in the starting lineup for the first time in four outings and turned in a strong effort. In 65th minute, Claus Jensen floated a free kick from the right side to the top of the box where several players jumped and missed it. McBride settled it and in one motion drove it low through the legs of a defender and just out of the reach of a diving keeper Scott Carson to make it 1-0.
Two minutes later, Jensen came sweeping in the right side, using McBride as a decoy, and made it 2-0.
Coleman started with a three defenders and five midfielders, but after Charlton pulled to within 2-1 in the 78th minute, Bocanegra was inserted as a fourth back three minutes later,
Fulham (3-2-3, 12 points) is tied for ninth place, while Watford, after being drubbed 3-0 at Arsenal Saturday is 0-4-4 with four points, sits in 19th place, one point ahead of cellar-dwelling Charlton (1-7).
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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