The What If US National Team
Let’s say they get rid of diving in soccer, is there any chance it doesn’t be huge in here in the US after that? Constant action, players who are willing to kick, headbutt, and fight each other on a constant basis, crazy hair cuts, goofy players and personalities, some amazing skill, the way they keep time basically begs you to do a Power Hour, and then on top of that there’s always the chance that a flair may or may not be shot at the players on the pitch!!! And you can gamble on soccer too! Seriously, I’m shocked that soccer isn’t bigger. I really am.
With that now out there, let’s tackle (Pun Alert! Pun Alert!) something that Simmons half posed last week. While musing on Shawn Marion, Simmons' wrote:
(By the way, I've been watching the World Cup for four weeks trying to decide which NBA players could have been dominant soccer players, eventually coming to three conclusions. First, Allen Iverson would have been the greatest soccer player ever -- better than Pele, better than Ronaldo, better than everyone. I think this is indisputable, actually. Second, it's a shame that someone like Chris Andersen couldn't have been pushed toward soccer, because he would have been absolutely unstoppable soaring above the middle of the pack on corner kicks. And third, can you imagine anyone being a better goalie than Shawn Marion? It would be like having a 6-foot-9 human octopus in the net. How could anyone score on him? He'd have every inch of the goal covered. Just as a sports experiment, couldn't we have someone teach Marion the rudimentary aspects of playing goal, then throw him in a couple of MLS games? Like you would turn the channel if this happened?)
So that got our heads here at VFLOAB thinking… what if soccer was #1 in America… what would the US National Team look like? For starters, we’ll have the US play a 4-4-2. From there I’m opening this up to any US athlete in professional sports today. It’s going to be mostly basketball and football players since they tend to be the most athletic athletes that the US has to offer. I’m sure there are a few hockey players that would make good soccer players, but US hockey is down big time right now. And let’s face it, most baseball players have amazing hand-eye coordination… and sure they’d probably also have good foot-eye coordination, but they’re baseball players! Who in the All-Star Game made you think, man, he’d be a great basketball/football/soccer player! Maybe a Dominican or two, but does Vernon Wells or Chase Utley make you think they’d be great soccer players?
Another thing of note, some of these guys are much bigger than they’d ever be if they played soccer. For instance, Urlacher who is listed at 260 pounds would take up half the screen if he played soccer. So let’s assume his a bit smaller, say 210 pounds. As for basketball players height, I’m not sure what a seven footman running around and playing soccer would look like. But considering that guys like Dirk and Garnett move so effortlessly as it is at that height, I’m willing to guess they’d look more like Steven Gerrard than Peter Crouch out there. Okay, let’s cinch it up and hunker down.
Goalie – Currently: Kasey Keller; Replace with: Shawn Marion – I’m with Simmons on this one (look above in case you forgot already). I think Marion would be a beats in net.
Right Back – Currently: Steve Cherundolo; Replace with: Ron Artest – Okay, I realize he’s a red card and ten game suspension waiting to happen; but remember we’ve already had players go into the stands in soccer. Artest would just be doing what’s already been done. And tell me you wouldn’t love to see him flying up the right wing, getting back, locking down the opponents left back… I mean he’d force EVERYTHING to the right side. A shame he’s a basketball player.
Left Back - Currently: Carlos Bocanegra; Replace with: Champ Bailey – He’s got to be on this team and I have no clue where else to play him.
Center Back - Currently: Eddie Pope; Replace with: Troy Polamalu – He’s got the crazy hair thing down already. He’d scare the shit out of every single striker in the air, and who else would be able to read the other team better than Polamalu? Exactly.
Center Back – Currently: Oguchi Onyewu; Replace with: Brian Urlacher – In the end, Urlacher’s speed, size, and general ability would make him nasty. While he can run really fast in a straight line, it’s his lateral quickness that always seems to impress me the most. He’d be able to run with pretty much ever striker out there, he’d be nasty on anything in the air, and he’d cover more ground than anyone else in the game not named Fabio Cannavaro.
Right Midfield – Currently: Clint Dempsey; Replace with: Clint Dempsey (no change) – He was head and shoulders the best US player in the World Cup. He showed flair, speed, ability, skill, and pace. And unlike a few other US players, when he got a chance to score, he scored. The guy has a bright future ahead of him, and I know if I was a manager in England, I’d be calling MLS about Dempsey.
Left Midfield – Currently: DeMarcus Beasley; Replace with: Michael Vick – Not only is he left footed (well assuming he is because he’s left handed), but he’d probably be the fastest player in all of soccer. Seriously, just imagine what Vick could do flying down the left side? Is there a right back that would have any chance against him? Ashley Cole plays on the left… and other than that I can’t think of anyone. I’m excited just thinking about Vick on the left.
Center Midfield – Currently: Landon Donovan; Replace with: LeBron James – Let’s see he can run, he sees the court better than anyone else, and he does things and will do things that we’ve never seen and he’s 21. Sounds like the kind of guy you want directing your midfield for the next eight to ten years. Probably plays more of a holding role that you’d expect.
Center Midfield - Currently: Claudio Reyna; Replace with: Dwyane Wade – It’s a bit of a risk playing two attacking midfielders, but I think with a back line like the US has it shouldn’t be a problem, especially since LeBron would be more of a play maker than attacker. Anyway, I see Wade as a faster Steven Gerrard.
Striker – Currently: Brian McBride; Replace with: Allen Iverson – Simmons said above that he’s convinced that Iverson would be the greatest soccer player of all time… and I couldn’t agree more. The real question is where do you play him? You could probably stick him on the wing… or in the center mid… but I think Iverson would be deadly up front. He’d be average in the air, but that’s about it. He’d dribble around pretty much everyone, he’d have that killer instinct, he’d be faster than pretty much everyone… If you combined Henry, Maradona, and Ronaldinho… that would be Allen Iverson the soccer player. My Lord.
Striker – Currently: Eddie Johnson; Replace with: Reggie Bush – The Young Stud that bummed Steve Smith from the starting line up! I’ll let this do the talking:
I really can’t get enough of that highlight reel… just amazing.
Goaltender: Tim Howard
Ummm, just because he’d probably be better than Marion in the end, I mean I’d HATE to see Marion come off his line... I’d have heart attacks. Then again, he’d probably just out jump ever one and end up with the ball.
Defenders: Peyton Manning, Oguchi Onyewu, Josh Smith, Ed Reed, LaVar Arrington
I encluded LaVar just because he’d probably scare the shit out of the other side. Reed would be a often used sub on the wing, Onyewu is going to be on the US back line for years to come. Josh Smith excites me. And Peyton… well he’d be a good sweeper right? I don’t know, just seems like he should be on this team as much as I hate to say that.
Midfielders: Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, Larry Johnson, DaMarcus Beasley
I’m assuming that Manning can also play some midfield… anyway, Paul is a no brainier in the middle. Pierce seems like he’d be a better midfielder than striker, Beasley’s veracity and pace keeps him around. And Larry Johnson… you tell me. Those eight weeks last year were without a doubt, almost dream like, as if you wouldn’t believe that they happened unless he was on your fantasy team. It was unbelievable. And therefore you’ve got to put him on the team as some sort of winger.
Strikers: Steve Smith (the wide out on the Panthers silly), Warrick Dunn, Randy Moss
Smith strikes me as a poor mans Iverson. Dunn as the crafty veteran and good locker-room guy. I have no clue where to put Randy Moss, but he’s GOT to be on this team. Since he’s good in the air and ridiculously fast… he’s a striker.
Guys who I have no idea what to do with, but should probably be on this team:
Amare Stoudamire, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Donovan McNabb, Marvin Harrison
You tell me. Stoudamire is a freak of nature, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what he’d play. Goalie? Up front? In the back? Howard seems like a backliner, but I’m not sure. I have even less of a clue what to do with Garnett, I guess up front, but I don’t know. McNabb seems like a natural for the center mid, but I’m not sure he cracks this line up. And Harrison… it’s just a shout out more than anything else.
Just missed the Cut: Larry Fitzgerald, Chad Johnson, Gilbert Arenas, Chauncey Billups, Kirk Hinrich
I think this is self explanatory.
No way in Hell they make the team because I said so: Kobe Bryant and Terrell Owens
So that’s the team… any suggestions, changes, or your Starting XI feel free to post.
Posted by Otter at 14:18