Many Columbus Crew SC fans will look back at the week of the 2015 MLS Cup Final with a bitter taste in their mouths. While the week leading up to the championship game had many good memories that may be tainted, for one group of youth soccer players.
As part of Allstate's "Good Hands" program, former Crew SC forward Brian McBride surprised 18 players from the Kicks for Kids soccer club.
Along with New England Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen, McBride hosted a practice with this team followed by a presentation from Allstate where each player received new soccer gear and tickets to the MLS Cup Final.
It began with a brief training session led by their coaches before McBride and Ngyuen surprised the players and spoke to the team, answering questions about their careers.
McBride and Nguyen took part in several soccer-focused competitions where the winners received Crew SC jerseys courtesy of Allstate.
According to the press release: The local Kicks for Kids program in Columbus gives inner-city kids, honor students and other deserving young people an opportunity and an unforgettable experience to play soccer in and around Columbus, including MAPFRE Stadium.
"Just stuff I've been able to be a part of with Allstate has been a lot of fun and we are here with what we're branding as the Good Hands F.C.," McBride told Massive Report leading up to the event. "In the sense that it's basically a community, grass-roots project where we get to go surprise a local soccer team with a pop-up clinic. Doing that, we'll have some fun, we'll play some games. At the end, we'll surprise them with some new soccer equipment and also with tickets for the game on Sunday."
For McBride, this not only gives him an opportunity to help young players from around the country, but also work with a company that has a large impact on his life.
"It's funny because Allstate contacted me sort of out of the blue, but for me it was a no brainer," he explained. "My family has deep ties with Allstate. Allstate, basically their headquarters is about five miles from where I grew up. My wife's father was an Allstate agent for over 30 years. My brother's wife worked at the headquarters for a while. So when this opportunity came and I found out what the project was, I jumped at it. I think that there's very few opportunities where you get to go and have an influence outside of your area if you don't have companies that are willing to put out that idea. So it's something that I've really enjoyed for the last two years."
McBride, who is still involved with soccer as an anchor, is an icon, especially in Columbus. He played with the Black & Gold from 1996 to 2003 before making his move to Europe and playing for Everton until 2008.
McBride also made 95 appearances for the U.S. Men's National Team, scoring 30 goals as one of the best forwards in American soccer history.
His notoriety makes him the perfect figure for Allstate to broaden their community outreach program into the world of soccer.
"It's a great way for Allstate to show it's not a name on a billboard or just being out there for people to see," McBride said. "They want to have that interaction and to have a genuine connection to each community. So they've been a part of MLS for six years and I've been doing this for the past two and it's just a really rewarding and fun thing to be a part of."
McBride will continue his work with Allstate throughout the U.S. at major events such as MLS Cup and the MLS All-Star Game. It is something that will continue to reward youth soccer players in the inner city that work hard both on the field and in the classroom.