The United States hasn't broken through as a true international soccer power, but the argument has always been that the Americans would be scary if our best athletes grew up wanting to play soccer.
Unlike many other countries, our top athletes typically can be found in the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball. OK, fine, they’re in the NFL and NBA.
What would happen if we tested that hypothesis and sent our best NFL players to the World Cup? Who would make the team? Glad you asked.
The NFL world is very thin on high-level soccer experience, but that’s OK. When a soccer player gets tackled by J.J. Watt, the writhing wouldn’t be an act, let’s just say. We’ll teach Watt and the others how to kick a ball as we go.
Here is what the World Cup team might look like if it were made up of NFL stars ... and with a little training this squad might have better than a 0.4 percent chance of winning it all:
Goalkeeper: Patriots CB Darrelle Revis
We need someone with quick feet who can change directions in an instant and explode to make a save. Considering Revis has a 38-inch vertical jump and can stay step for step with the best receivers in the NFL, we’ll tab the new Patriots star to turn the net into Revis Island.
The middle of the defense in front of Revis will be a 6-foot-5, 289-pounder with a 37-inch vertical in Watt, and a 6-6, 266-pounder with a 37.5-inch vertical in Clowney. Good luck getting around, through or over those two. Then we’ll flank them with Thomas and Sherman, who have some experience keeping people from getting past them. Let’s just hope there are no international incidents from their talking. Expect a few red cards though.
Midfielders: 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, Jets RB Chris Johnson, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
OK, so we’re going to need guys who can cover a lot of ground. Yeah, these four should do. Davis might be the best athlete in the NFL; go back and look at his NFL scouting combine numbers for confirmation. Calvin Johnson and Peterson … NFL defenders can tell you how impossible those two are to track in the open field. And as long as Chris Johnson doesn’t hit the wrong hole, he might do well on the bigger pitch with some room to run.
Forwards: Colts P Pat McAfee, former Bengals WR Chad Johnson
We need some soccer skill on this squad. McAfee actually has some soccer chops: He played Division I men’s soccer at West Virginia, and we know he can boot it. Considering he’s 6-1 and 233 pounds, he’s not going to be pushed around near the goal either. And we’ll take Johnson back from the Canadian Football League for a World Cup trip. Yeah, he’s a bit older now, but he’s a soccer nut and he can actually kick the ball pretty well, as we saw when he booted an extra point in a preseason game against the Lions.
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