The U.S. produces the debatably best athletes in every major sport worldwide except for one glaring omission, soccer. The boys in this country grow up and want to dunk like Lebron James or throw passes like Tom Brady. Most of them don’t want to dominate the pitch like Lionel Messi. That translates to the U.S never being a World Cup champion and an after thought on the world’s stage. Kids are influenced by the glamour and money that professional athletes obtain through sports but few realize the same opportunities are there in soccer overseas. These are five athletes who could have changed the face of American soccer if they decided to step on pitch.
1. Wes Welker (Forward)
Wes Welker has the same measurables as Lionel Messi. He is a solid route runner and finds open spaces well. A forward needs to find open spaces to receive passes to bury away in the back of the net. His field vision makes him a great returner which can translate to the pitch. A forward needs to have great vision when trying to beat defenders. Wes Welker would have made a great forward and given the U.S. a great player in space up top that they desperately need.
2. Kobe Bryant (Center Attacking Mid-Fielder)
The U.S. actually has great midfielders in Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey. But what if they had a 6 ft. 6 in. attacking minded man who could pull the trigger on shots himself and muscle people out while feeding a forward. Kobe Bryant would be an amazing center attacking midfielder. Imagine him feeding the ball up to forwards and working the ball around the pitch with Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey playing on each of his sides.
3. Calvin Johnson (Goalie)
Tim Howard is a great goalie. His swagger and control of his net is unmatched by any other keeper in American history. But what if we could stick a 6 ft. 5 in. NFL wide receiver whose 236 lbs with great movement to patrol the pipes. His ability to cover the net would be unmatched by any other goalie. Johnson or as he affectionately called Megatron has a 45 in. vertical leap and 11 ft. 7 in. broad jump. Sports Science calculated he can cover an area of 4,009 cubic feet. Pair that with his great hands and Calvin Johnson would have been the best keeper in the world.
4. Chris Johnson (Left or Right Midfielder -Winger)
Team U.S.A has had great players on the outside but none have the speed to fly up and down the pitch at an elite level. What if NFL running back Chris Johnson used his 4.24 40 yard dash speed to fly up and down the sides. He could chase down balls fed in deep as well as crash the net off rebound shots. Johnson’s speed and 5 ft. 11 in. height make him an ideal winger.
5. LeBron James (Center Defensive Mid Fielder – Sweeper)
LeBron James is the most physically gifted NBA player ever. Imagine him playing a center defensive mid fielder. He has the speed and movement to play in the mid field and size to muscle any attacker off the ball. He is also a scary threat for a header off corner kicks. He can anchor a locked down defense and jump up and help the offense. He would change the game on both sides of the ball.
Using these players natural talents and likely positions I have spliced them into the current team USA starting roster. The formation that fits these guys potential talent and current US talent best is a 4-1-2-1-2.
Michael Bradley (Center Mid-Fielder)
Tim Howard (Goalie)
Landon Donovan (Left or Right Mid-Fielder)