Brian McBride will come out of international retirement to lead the USA's Olympic football challenge as the veteran striker was named in Peter Nowak's 18-man squad on Thursday.
McBride, 36, is out of a contract after leaving English Premiership club Fulham over the summer. He was expected to return to Major League Soccer but, after his plan of signing with his hometown Chicago Fire hit a snag, he will instead spend August in Beijing.
McBride, who scored 30 goals in 95 appearances for the USA, announced his retirement from international football after the 2006 FIFA World Cup™.
He said his return for Olympic duty came about after some innocent joking around with West Ham defender Jonathan Spector and US U-23 assistant coach Lubos Kubik during the Premier League season.
"Jonathan, as a joke, goes, 'Lubos, you know that Brian wants to play in the Olympics'," McBride told US Soccer's official website. "Lubos says, 'That'd be great'. "After a few more jokes I told him, you know, 'Don't joke around. I'd seriously consider it if you're serious.'"
Kubik got the message back to Nowak and McBride is now Beijing bound. He will head a squad that also features new Villarreal signing Jozy Altidore, Benfica teenager Freddy Adu and Heerenveen's free-scoring midfielder Michael Bradley as well as a string of MLS stars.
Aston Villa-bound goalkeeper Brad Guzan is included along with the likes of Robbie Rogers of Columbus Crew, New England's Michael Parkhurst and Toronto's Maurice Edu.
There is also a place for Mexico-based defender Michael Orozco.
"We are very excited about the group of players that we have chosen to represent the United States at the Olympic Games," Nowak said. "It has been a very competitive environment, and we had some tough decisions to make. It's no secret that we have a difficult challenge in front of us with our group, which is one of the most difficult in the tournament."
The United States are in Group B alongside Japan, Holland and Nigeria.