Some thoughts before I pick and explain the team: when looking in to this subject, I focused a lot on stamina–i.e. the ability to run for sustained periods of time. This actually left out many overweight/physically unfit athletes who otherwise might not have been overweight. It also basically means that almost no baseball players qualify, and certainly no football players who aren’t receivers, safeties, cornerbacks, or (maybe) linebackers. Remember, soccer is a sport where the average midfielder has to run for more or less ninety minutes–David Beckham, for example, was famous for running about 5-7 miles a game. Because this experiment is mainly about athleticism, stamina was a big part of the equation.
Another issue that I’ve had is what I like to call “innate skill,” or “instinct”–in Spanish we call it “olfato” (i.e. David Villa might not be the greatest physical specimen, but the man has “olfato goleador”–just like Brazilian Ronaldo). I’m assuming for this experiment that each player developed the same instincts that they did for their sport in soccer–i.e. Kevin Garnet is a great defender in the NBA, has great defensive instincts, and thus becomes a great defensive soccer player. Same with Dwight Howard.
Finally, this is my thought experiment, so I’ll damn well set whatever the hell parameters I want.
Team USA (4-4-2), Coach Mike D’Antoni/Joe Torre. Tough choice on the coach, though I’m leaning toward D’Antoni, simply because the type of basketball he produces is so beautiful (and so much like soccer). Had to include Mr. Torre on the list though because he’s a strong presence in the locker room, calming, and very tactically smart–plus, he’s a champion. Hard choice.
GK: Dwight Howard, C Orlando Magic. I honestly don’t think this is much of a question. The man has a massive vertical jump, is quick on his feet, and covers a huge amount of the goal. Plus, he’s one of the best defenders in the NBA. What’s not to love?
RB: Chris Johnson, RB Tennessee Titans. The man is fast. REALLY fast. And with tons of padding on. Plus, he’s a football player, so he must be tough. He’d be more in the Maicon style attacking back, though.
RCB: Darrelle Revis, CB, NY Jets. No real argument on this one either, I don’t think, as the man has incredible defensive sense, plus an incredibly tough physique. He has this sort of Fabio Cannavarro-esque ability to completely shut down the best guy on the other team. Revis vs. CR7, anyone?
LCB: Kevin Garnett, F, Boston Celtics. I’m talking KG in his prime–running his ass off on every play, smashing his head into things to motivate himself, you know, classic, 2004 KG. He’d be an awesome defender, and a presence on the back line in the air. Plus, he could come forward to be a threat from corners.
LB: Chris Paul, G, New Orleans Hornets. Every great defense needs one enforcer and one scrappy, fast small dude–think Roberto Carlos circa 1999 as a good analogy to what CP3 would be as a soccer player.
RW: Landon Donovan/Clint Dempsey. Yeah, these guys are class acts, and fully deserve to be on this team.
RCM: Dwyane Wade, G/F Miami Heat. Dwyane is more of a finesse player with a powerful streak to him–he’d make a sick midfield combination with Rajon Rondo, kind of like pairing Kaká with Andrés Iniesta. I see Wade more as Kaká than Xavi, for example.
LCM: Rajon Rondo, G, Boston Celtics. Think about this: Andrés Iniests, minus the hair, change skin color, add a green head band. Perfect. I imagine that Rondo could be a flashy passing Iniesta or Xabi Alonso style center mid.
LM: Kevin Durant, F, OKC Thunder. Perfect match. Could cut inside as a righty a la Robben for Holland, but would have a NASTY shot and probably be able to swing in a fantastic cross or two. Plus, he always seems to be getting better…
CF: LeBron James, F, Miami Heat. Listen, I know LBJ’s an incredible athletic talent, with an essentially unparalleled ability to score. But I put him at CF because I feel like he’d flourish more in the setting up, feeding, and maybe putting in a rebound part of the game. I don’t know, something about second-fiddle…
ST: Kobe Bryant, G/F LA Lakers. The man is a killer, simple as that, and when the game is on the line, you want him to have the ball (unless it’s game 7 of the 2010 NBA finals…). That notwithstanding, Kobe gets my pick over LBJ as someone who I’d be genuinely frightened to have opposing me on a soccer field–think Ronaldo circa 2000.
Reggi Bush, RB, New Orleans Saints: CM/CF. Fast, smart, killer instinct–a great burst of energy off the bench.
Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts: CM/CB. Distributive center midfielder–not so much for the athletic ability, but for the head. Could be a Zidane-style creative CM–also, NFL QB’s are very smart athletes.
John Wall, G, Washington Wizards: LM/RM. Fast, young, motivated–Aaron Lennon/Mesut Özil of the USA.
Ron Artest, F LA Lakers. Yeah. The man can defend, no question about it–and that’s about all he can do, other than be completely out of his mind, and run into the stands to melee with drunken fans. But you gotta admit, the dude would be terrifying to run towards, and could bring some Beckenbauer/Lúcio type flair if he ever ran forward.