McBride's return to MLS has hit a stalemate

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A month or so ago when it was announced that Brian McBride was set to return to MLS, a wave of excitement crashed over the league. Despite the fact that Toronto FC had first dibs to him, the ex-Fulham striker said he wanted to play in Chicago, his hometown, and most observers assumed a deal between the Fire and TFC would quickly get done.

That was six weeks ago. Now, a source with close knowledge of the situation tells the negotiations between the two clubs are at a "stalemate." In fact, the source has serious doubts about whether the deal will get done at all, as Chicago does not want to gut the young nucleus of its side and Toronto does not want to give up such a valuable commodity for nothing.

Supposedly, in exchange for McBride and possibly another player, TFC has asked variously for Justin Mapp, Chad Barrett or Chris Rolfe, or some combination thereof. But, the source says, "Honestly, I don't think Chicago wants McBride that badly."

So does this signal that a deal isn't going to happen? Not necessarily. This is MLS, and things like this often seem to get done, one way or another.

But it's not surprising to hear Chicago may not be as enamored of McBride as everyone originally surmised. Although he is the consumate professional and in fantastic shape, the former Fulham striker is now 36 years old. He doesn't have too many years left. Allowing young talented players like Mapp, Barrett or Rolfe go would be risky for Chicago. It would become regrettable if the Fire didn't win a trophy or two with McBride.

Furthermore, even if McBride winds up with back in MLS, he will miss a chunk of time right away while playing with the U.S. Olympic Team. has learned from sources within the league that McBride will be one of Olympic team head coach Peter Nowak's three overage players.

Despite all the possible negatives, there are plenty of positives to keep Chicago pushing for McBride's services. He is a national hero who would provide the Fire with both a world-class finisher -- 32 goals in 139 appearances for Fulham -- and, along with Mexican superstar Cuauhtemoc Blanco, a second huge draw at Toyota Park. If the deal gets done, Chicago would immediately be seen as favorites to win the MLS Cup.

McBride previously played for the Columbus Crew from 1996 to 2004. He scored 62 goals for the Crew, and led them to the 2002 U.S. Open Cup championship.