world cup and the USA soccer dream team

As Spain (which has a bunch of pretty boys running around scoring goals) and the Dutch (still most famous for dikes and fans with short skirts getting kicked out of matches) make the World Cup finals we all here in the USA have to be slightly frustrated with the fact we can put athletic freak of natures on the field for any sport … excepting soccer.

Now. We certainly know that we can match in the nutty fan department

And we have soccer moms (which if Wikipedia is correct we coined that term which must mean we are the only country in the world that has them … so that puts us ahead in at least one soccer department doesn’t it?).

But we don’t seem to have teams that can score. Or maybe stop the other teams to score more than USA (of which I would like to note that if you lose 1-0 that if you actually have a team that can score then something like the Portugal’s recent 7 goal performance is preferable).

Even USA ‘s spectacular goal against whoever it was just didn’t compare to other world cup ‘spectacular’ goals because … well … technically we scored a smart goal.

But nothing to compare with the ungodly (spectacular) goals from the Brazilian Maicon, from that Slovakian guy Vittek, the German-Turkish guy Ozil, the Uruguayan Suarez with the hair and that Uruguayan Forlan who has a frickin’ cannon for a shot,  and David Villa, who looks like some street thug they picked off the streets of Spain.

The international stars are stunningly smooth and good and have a certain panache that either comes with style of play or a combination of style and ‘looks’ (think Beckham when he was actually in his prime). Oh. And they are tough. Sure. All this fake ‘falling’ makes it often look like a bad WWF match but most of these guys don’t look like pampered rich boys who learned to play but kids who banged balls off of brick walls in the streets and toughed it out onto the international field of play.

So. Does that mean American soccer is too middle class? Not tough enough? Because we certainly have way more than enough soccer players. Look. Soccer is probably the biggest participation percentage sport in town. And popularity, in terms of numbers, is definitely increasing.

But, maybe in my own naïve perspective, I don’t believe it has anything to do with popularity. Soccer is an easy game to play (but not play well). In a world where we are trying to force our kids out and do something “physical” and exercise … soccer is an easy mark.

Maybe its fundamentals or early learning? The guy who coached both Los Angeles and Columbus soccer teams suggests “there remains fundamental flaws in the US system: not enough technical emphasis, development academies don’t give young players enough opportunities to play top competition, and players are not placed into proper positions earlier enough.”

So it isn’t a numbers game.

And maybe it could be a fundamentals issue.

But I believe it is simply a ‘physical freak of nature’ issue.

It’s a toughness issue.

And, yeah, it is a charisma (or maybe say character) issue.

So let’s build the soccer dream team using athletes from other sports. Look I know Messi is Argentina’s best player and he is only 5’7” and he isn’t a freak of nature athlete but that isn’t the point. The point is if I can put the physical freaks of nature that we put on a football field (200+ pounds with world class sprint speed) we certainly can put those players running up and down a soccer field and score some goals AND kick some ass.

Ok. I recognize so much of what makes the guys who I am going to pick is their combination of ungodly great hand/eye coordination, some speed (or at least excellent physical motor) and probably some physicality. Some of which is irrelevant on the soccer field. So to do this let’s assume we can translate the hand/eye skills to foot/eye skills for this little adventure.  What I mean is imagine if Chris Johnson, Michael Vick and Lebron James were on the US soccer squad. I can tell you right now they’d be faster, more physical and more dominating than most of the current soccer players around the world.

Oh. And I haven’t decided on the field format. 4 4 2. Or 3 4 3. Or whatever. So just go with the set up I am throwing out there and imagine with these freaks on the field they could probably play a variety of positions.

Just to get warmed up (before I name my team) just think if we had natural athletes like a Bo Jackson in midfield careening down the field at over 200 pounds and world class speed. Or a Deion Sanders on a wing but maybe able to beat a midfielder back in an extreme defensive need.

Or think about Tom Brady (with Sam Bradford as Brady-in-training) as a striker. Putting the ball in the upper corners or the smallest space available from 40 yards out. Deadly accuracy. Not incredibly fast. But smart. Eye for the opportunity. Extra time in a 0-0 pitch they want the ball.

Or. Here is a blast from the past thought.

Could you imagine Ty Cobb as a striker? Holy cow.

Would he scare the crap out of some fancy schamncy Brazilian doing some tricks with the ball?

He would set a record for goals and red cards in one season.


I want some long armed freak of nature in the goal like Lebron or Dwight Howard. One of those guys with wingspan that’s taller than they are. Okay. But I want a leader. You’ve got to be a leader in the goal managing the defense, moving guys around.

So. give me Tim Duncan (in his prime). Excellent instincts for shot blocking. 6’ 11” and wingspan of Air Force One.

My easy pick (in their prime) would have been Bill Bates (Cowboys safety) and Ronnie Lott (OMG. Could you imagine anyone getting out alive?).

But we need some bottled up anger to be in a place where they can hurt people. I’d build my defense out of NFL defensive backs. Troy Palamuola, Champ Bailey, Darrel Green, Bob Sanders. Maybe a Tony Gonzalez back there. But keep them big and fast. And mean.

Ray Lewis is a stopper. A monster in the middle. I go for Ray Lewis (although Patrick Willis with his freakish speed and incredible strength is tempting). Used to reading the field and seeing a play develop. Sets a physical, but smart ball hawking, tone for the defense. No one is gonna be heading any corner kicks in with Ray cruising the front of the goal.

Center Midfielder:

Michael Vick. Quarterback who can not only distribute the ball in a variety of ways but is comfortable controlling it on his own. Oh. And he is a truck with world class speed.Over 200 pounds of chiseled speed.

Outside Midfielders:

Steve Nash and Chris Paul at midfield. Point guards with incredibly quick feet with explosive short bursts. See the whole court. An ego and an ability to feed the ball to others. Quite capable of scoring a couple goals on their own if the strikers don’t have their shit together or are having an ‘off pitch.’ Capable of control the center of the field from wherever they were. These guys are the ones still sprinting when everybody else is puking.
Backups: Maybe Wes Welker or even a Dallas Clark. Add some bulk but maintain the speed if you need to pound on some Germans running the field.


Kevin Durant and Randy Moss. Greyhounds. Some of the fastest humans on earth and both go 6’3′ to 6’7′. Would be deadly on free kick headers, slashing in ahead of any of the midfielders listed above  and could out run any defender for a free ball in the corner. Ok. But someone pointed out to me something crazy about the “optimal foot size to kick a frickin’ soccer ball.” (and the goons I listed would have too huge feet)

First. I will appease this input with some other thoughts … but …

Second. If Randy Moss got all of his size 14 shoe cranked up and firmly on the ball I am imagining, optimal foot or not, the goalie is gonna see a Roddick serve like speed coming at him.

So. that said.

Lets put Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson and a Ladanian Tomlinson (in his prime) and Reggie Bush at forwards. Unimaginably fast in pads with an ability to not only shift gears in midstride but shift direction in milliseconds and on a dime. Look. If someone their size has this amount and mix of balance, agility and uncanny coordination they can certainly figure out a way to keep a soccer ball in front of them and not lose any speed.

And (beyond their actual foot size) imagine you could bring Lebron or a Kobe Bryant in as subs. Lebron maybe the fastest 6’9′ human ever created. Be physical when needed. No one would get by him. Swoop in on great on headers from corner kicks. Admit it. This would be frickin’ crazy in the box on a corner kick. Imagine these guys going up for a header.


This may be odd but with all the freaks on the field for some reason I want the guy who just knows how to be in the right place at the right time and has an uncanny performance record in crunch time. Doesn’t have to be fast (or the fastest). Just puts the damn ball in the net. Tom Brady, Derek Jeter.

Although, I would have been tempted to maybe ask a Michael Chang or Jimmy Connors in their prime to step into this role. Feisty. Innovative. Do whatever it takes to get the damn ball in the net players.


Head coach is a no brainer. The Zen master. Phil Jackson.

While managing all the freaks in some quadrangle based Zen offense he would probably mentally figure out a way of psyching out even the Dutch who I believe hasn’t registered a facial expression in a century or so.

Assistant coaches? Stan Van Gundy and John McEnroe.  If a coaching staff could get a red card this would be our opportunity. Van Gundy going apoplectic on the sidelines and Johnnie Mac chasing referees down on all corners of the field yelling “you cannot be serious!”

The player that could fit almost anywhere?

Lebron. Lebron in the net is crazy. Lebron running down the field scaring some pony tailed Italian is crazy. Lebron in the box on a corner kick is crazy.

On the bench (the freakishly talented character driven sidekicks): Ricky Henderson in his prime (he could interview himself). OchoCinco would make a good striker and sign the goalposts as well as the ball if he scored. Manny Ramirez. Manny being Manny would be a perfect addition on the sideline for some soccer shenanigans. Shaq. First. Imagine him stepping in goal. Well. How about he could just lie down on his side in front of the goal and block 50%. Second. And he would invent the USA score dance with a rap song.

There is my dream team. We need a team of freakishly athletic players in the next World Cup.  There is no better place in the world than the USA in producing freakishly talented athletes.

Written by Bruce