As a sweeper. He would be lockdown.
Mike Lantry, 1972
As a sweeper. He would be lockdown.
So many gifted atheletes out there that it would take too long to list them all....
Some recent great athelets would have to include:
Just to name a few not mentioned. I'm thinking of guys with height, size and speed.
How many guys are over 200 pounds?
How many of them can run a 4.4 forty?
Real or fake?
You don't think those guys are over 200 lbs because they workout to be that big? All those guys were significantly lighter when they were entering college, and put a lot of work into bulking up to be able to play football. If they had been focused on soccer from a young age they would never have spent so much time working on their upper body strength.
Bo Jackson! He would have been unstoppable.
Monta Ellis, Barry Sanders, Carl Lewis, Walter Payton...
I'd get a list of the CBs in the NFL and start with them. I think they have plenty of transferrable skills.
I'd take the worst team in the MLS over a team of the top 11 CBs (or any position, for that matter) in the NFL.
I didn't mean *right now*. No, I don't think the CBs could compete immediately. I was speaking in terms of raw materials. Some training and whatnot would be assumed.
And having played in England for 3 years as a kid, I can tell you that tall people generally do not make good soccer players, even at goalie. Occasionally you will get a Ted Eck. Therefore, most of NBA probably couldn't cut it. Also, soccer requires a great deal of athleticism and endurance, so just about no baseball players could be included.
IMO, the athleticism, endurance, and playing in space is very similar to hockey.
I would assume that most American soccer fans would steer clear of retarded sports chauvinism.
Obviously, baseball and soccer reward a non-identical set of physical tools. But for instance, RE comparative athleticism, I'd be willing to bet that the median MLB centerfielder has a good bit more straight-line speed than the median World Cup roster member.
While you may be right - a median MLB centerfielder may have more straightline speed than a median WC roster member, but can the MLB centerfielder keep in up for 90 minutes? I doubt it, even for the best centerfielders.
Simply put, baseball requires a different set of skills, and being fit and athletic is not necessarily one of them. Baseball players sit, stand or squat about 98% of the time - soccer players do not.
Baseball's greatest player in his prime was a hard drinking overweight chain smoker. Soccer's greatest player in his prime was a symbol of fitness and endurance.
This is not to take away from baseball as a fun and enjoyable sport to play, but to suggest that baseball players have even the slightest comparison to soccer in terms of fitness and athleticism is IME a bit outlandish.
Are you suggesting that of the thousands of professional baseball players (on big league rosters, farm system teams, professional leagues outside of U.S., etc.) that none would have the physical tools and physiological make-up to play soccer at an elite level had they have been place in some soccer development system at an early age?
The two sports clearly require different skill sets, and I don't think anyone would deny a current baseball player isn't nearly as conditioned for endurance as a soccer player. But that's a product of their training, not some predisposition to a sport whose action is intermittent.
While I think those who are tall or naturally bigger (i.e. overweight) have a disadvantage in soccer, I think anyone from any race in any country can be good at soccer with the right development from an early age, even those who would end up playing baseball.
But the point of OP post was what current athlete could dominate soccer now. Baseball players are not developed or conditioned to run for 90 minutes, let alone 2 minutes, and the game of soccer is vastly different than baseball, even moreso than football, basketball and hockey.
With that, I don't think that anyone in MLB baseball now would be even remotely good at WC soccer now (and maybe vise versa). Not even close.
think you'd get an argument on the conditioning. We clearly had different interpretations of the original post, but for the record, it's pretty clear he/she didn't mean to limit this to current players
My question then, who amongst current and former professional sports stars do you see as having the most potential to dominate in soccer? Who are the prototypical athletes that would have excelled?
Further, at least to my mind, "would have excelled" implies a hypothetical--i.e., Who would have been great at soccer if he hadn't grown up playing it instead of [sport X]?
Sorry for the tone in my initial reply -- I used to both play a lot of baseball and take pride in my modest athleticism, so I've always been pretty chippy about assertions that no baseball players are athletes.
But I still think you're unduly favoring a very narrow definition of athleticism. Saying that baseball players are vastly athletically inferior to soccer players because baseball games don't require great muscular or cardiovascular endurance (which is for the most part true) is in my mind no different from saying that soccer players are vastly athletically inferior to basketball players because soccer doesn't demand size, upper body strength, or vertical explosion.
The strength, speed, durability, coordination, and reflexes displayed in some combination by all top-level baseball players are I think impressive in any context. Babe Ruths and John Kruks notwithstanding, pro baseball players are great athletes.
It seems we all have vastly different ideas of what athleticism means. I place more of an emphases on fitness and endurance, you maybe on reflexes and coordination.
But I agree, basketball players are better athletes than soccer players (maybe not VASTLY better) for the reasons you gave.
Overall, baseball players are definitely athletes, I just don't think they are as athletic as any other major sport (except for golf, if you are counting that). Again, this does not mean baseball players unathletic.
Thats because tall people in England means someone like Peter Crouch who's pretty awkward. Guy like that just doesn't have the athleticism of a Kobe or Lebron
So we're the only country in the world with tall athletes? Come on.
France produces both soccer and basketball players - there are like 10 French players in the NBA and obviously a ton in elite soccer. But none of their soccer players are supertall. Guys that tall just aren't cut out for soccer.
Goal- Rajon Rondo
Backs- Darrelle Revis, Ed Reed, Calvin Johnson, Charles Woodson
Mid- Chris Johnson, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson
Forward- Lebron James, Steve Smith
Rondo combines instincts, hops, and huge hands in goal
Revis helps shut down any quick strikers or counter attacks. Ed Reed is the QB of the defense, helping everyone move together and keep on the same page. Calvin clears crosses and corners with the best of them. And Woodson is diverse enough to be able to shut down the best attacking mids and yet create offensively as an overlapping left back
Obviously, Chris Johnson and Iverson provide explosiveness to attack inside and out from the mid. Kobe is the captain of the team, a true leader. Nash creatively sets up Iverson and Johnson and chances are open all day.
Lebron has the body to shield defenders with his back to the goal and the vision to distribute to any of Johnson, Iverson, or Steve Smith cutting towards goal. And he can beat anyone on corners and crosses.
There you have it- the perfect US Soccer team, on paper.
pretty much every other Bill Simmons podcast contains into a post...cmon let the damn soccer talk die already.
Anyone who plays any professional sport in America is athletic, but as a few have pointed out, you don't want huge or even that tall of a team. So football players close to the line of scrimmage and forwards or centers from the NBA are out. You have to be able to run a ton and be fast, so that takes out half of the MLB.
The bigger issue in my opinion, is the youth developement. While a ton of kids growing up play soccer, the level of training is inferior to England, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Brazil and Argentina from a knowledge and level of competition standpoint. If we had clubs like they do in some of those other countries and if we had coaches like the other countries do, things would be improved.
Then if you added more financial incentive for an athelete to play soccer over say basketball, you would be able to have a more athletic team. In fact, I think we don't need to take atheletes from our current leagues. Our soccer team could be dominant if we filled it with 5'9" stud athletes that were considered "too small" to make it in football or basketball.
When and ever a time comes that US soccer players are recognized as the highest paid athletes in America, there will be a natural shift to begin playing hockey at a very young age. I never had over 10% of non-caucasians hitting golf balls with me at the range until Tiger came along. Now its the norm. Money and fame will dictate who plays what, and I just don't think that's ever going to occur in this country.
Your best soccer players would naturally be your top sprinters who already possess the foot speed for the sport and from those you could begin separating those with the dexterity needed to play socccer. So instead of concentrating on the big three sports, start looking at your sprinters and long jumpers from the world of track. No doubt an Olympic caliber triple jumper would be an ideal goalie.
Being a tremendous athlete doesn't equal being a tremendous soccer player. These lists of athletes could just have easily been a list of great players in their own sport who could have been great players in another sport; be it soccer, baseball, tennis, hockey etc.
But athleticism doesn't translate into being good at any particular sport. Look at Jordan and baseball. Would he have been a great tennis player? Maybe. A great football safety? Maybe. A great goalie? Maybe. I have my doubts but we'll never know.
I'd take my chances with someone with unbelievable quickness. That to me is the essential, innate quality that you look for in a soccer player. I don't care how big, or strong, or tall, or fast you are. If you are quick, my money is on you. That's why I think that many on these lists would fail as soccer players. Some are very quick but most are not.
But about looking at the best athletes America has, and assuming that instead of an upbringing and the sport they now play, they were instead brought up playing soccer. Looking at your Jordan and baseball example. Jordan worked at basketball for over a decade and decided he wanted to play baseball. Was he good then? No. If he would have played baseball his whole life instead of working so hard at basketball would he have been good? I think so.
I also look at players like Ray Lewis, and other LBs, safeties, RBs, who are over 200 lbs. If those people were brought up in a soccer country they wouldn't work out to be that big. They would train for a different set of skills.
So anyone looking at current players that could simply switch sports, or even work at it for 5 years, and become a good soccer player is kidding themselves. It many more years to become that good at a sport. For soccer players, using their feet to touch the ball is second nature. That second nature can't be picked up in 5-10 years of adulthood. That's something that is learned in youth. And that is the question being asked I think.
Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince in their primes. Those guys were all effort all the time and extremely athletic, defensive-minded players. Going back to the 80s, early 90s...pick 'em. Imagine a young Dennis Rodman on the pitch. I'd watch.
Terrell Owens would be a very tough forward to defend against.
I think Charles Woodson would make a great halfback.
OK - so is soccer not a huge cultural thing in the US??? Maybe not with the urban African American atheletes (Space Emporer aside) who seem to be listed above as potentials, but certainly in suburbia and with other ethnic groups.
As RioThaN suggests, there are kids in the US that live with soccer balls in their backpacks, and play pick up soccer whenever they have a spare minute, at recess, after school, etc. Then there are the kids on travel teams, etc. At least some of these kids have amazing footwork, speed, etc.
The question is, where does that pipeline go in the US? With as many people as we have in this country, and as many as we have in soccer programs up through high school and into college, what happens?
As I said above, the kids who play soccer at 6 years old and have the potential to be the next Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo either fail to reach their potential because of the lack of very high end training and competion, quit the sport because they don't see a viable financial future in it or switch sports that may be more lucrative.
To answer the OP's main question, for me it would be point guards, defensive backs and short stops. But we would need to improve our coaching and pay pros a lot more in the MLS for that to happen.
I think Mike Hart or Biakabutuka would make a great midfield player since vision is such a important part of being a good midfielder. I think you can put most running backs at the mid position. I think I would have Jalen Rose as a holding mid, but he might be too tall. I would put Leon Hall and Marlin Jackson as full backs. I would also have maybe Marcus Ray at centerback. It would be cool to have Woodson and Desmond play at the striker position. That is what I have thought of so far there are so many options that I wouldn't know what to do with them.
Braylon, Avant, Toomer, Streets, Walker, Law, Wheatley, Breaston, Manningham, Arrington, etc. would be great on the pitch.
Paul Pierce, I mean it'd be best to have someone who is athletic AND loves to fall over and earn phantom calls. That's where the USA earned my respect during the world cup, at no point were they really trying to ask for calls unless they actually deserved them (See Dempsey bloody lip vs Algeria in the box... didn't even get that one). If soccer eliminates the replay it's going to encourage these players to dive more because now they aren't even subject to media scrutiny for being actors on 75% of calls (see Kaka's second yellow card vs Ivory coast). I realize my post is a little sidetracked from the actual topic, but I really enjoy watching soccer and wanted to rant because I'm a little bitter the US lost.
OCHO CINCO #85
he'd have to change his name to no greater than Chad Veintitrés.
Edied. Never mind. Mine's already been mentioned. Twice.
I am not on my game today.
I think Usain Bolt would be deadly on counters as a striker. And he's nice and tall so he can win lots of balls in the air on corners, free kicks, etc.
I am sitting here cringing about the argument that other sports stars could not be soccer stars. I think that is a false assumption because the topic is not can they play now but "what if they had trained in soccer like they have their current sport matched with their athleticism". Sure right now most of the above mentioned guys are built too large or may not be able to run that much for 90 minutes but had they played since they were little then yes they could and yes they would have the skills and they would have trained their bodies for soccer not getting large and powerful.
The question is.... having guys with their caliber of athletic ability matched with soccer-know-how, would it give the US an opportunity to compete if not dominate? I think the answer has to be yes.
Some of our pro athletes undoubtedly could have made it in soccer if that had been their speciality, but when people start throwing out 6'9" NBA players, that's just silly. How many players in the World Cup are taller than 6'3"? That seems to be about the maximum height for someone who possesses the other necessary skills. If being super-tall actually conferred an advantage, we'd be seeing NBA-sized guys out there right now. We aren't the only country with tall people.
I am cringing at some of the suggestions here. LeBron James could not flourish at soccer - too self-oriented to play anything other than forward, where your speed can only get you so far. You need patience, passing and long-range shooting.....none of which James has regularly shown in the NBA.
I dont expect a soccer field to be any different.
LeBron averaged 8.6 assists per game this season.
I would take all of the best running backs and cornerbacks in the NFL, and sprinkle in LeBron, DWade and few other NBA players. That would make for a dynamite squad IMO.
What position would LeBron play? There's no one at the World Cup close to his size. (England's Peter Crouch is the only player I can think of who's even close to his height, and he's probably 50 pounds lighter.)
Goalie would be LeBron's best position IMO. It would be pretty difficult to score of someone that big, that long, and with that much athleticism.
Give me Chuck Liddell at stopper and I guaruntee that his thousand yard stare alone saves you some goals.
For UM, something tells me that if you put an athletic 6'9" guy like Chris Webber in goal that nothing is getting past him. You would go low corner on him and his 4-foot leg would easily knock it away when he scissored and he wouldn't even have to dive for the high corner shots.
If guys Webber's size are ideal for goalkeeper, why aren't there any in the World Cup? We aren't the only country with tall people.
A soccer goal is 24 feet wide. You don't stop many low shots with your legs. You do it by diving, and a guy like Webber, with his high center of gravity, isn't going to be as quick to the ground as someone smaller.
I see your point and agree which is why that taller than average keeper (6'9" is about 6 in. over ideal height)) would have to be an athletic specimen, some one so freakishly gifted that he broke the mold. Few big men would have the ability to make low saves and I can think of witnessing few big men more athletic than Webber. I didn't say Juwan Howard or Terry Mills or even a pro like Karl Malone because the just don't compare to the athleticism but thanks for raining on my fantasy soccer parade.
Edwin van der Sar, the dutch keeper is 6'5''-6'6''. Although he retired from international play this year (much to the dismay of the dutch national team) he is still a top flight keeper and ManU just extended his contract another year. Tall people can be elite goalies. Just last year be broke the Premier League record for most consecutive clean sheets as well as most minutes played without conceding a goal.
Also, Peter Cech, the keeper for Chelsea, is 6'5'' and considered one of the best keepers in the world. Here is some quick wikipedia info on his awesomeness....
He currently holds the Premiership record for fewest appearances required to reach 100 clean sheets, having done so in 180 league appearances. He also holds a Czech professional league record of not conceding a goal in 855 competitive minutes (he previously held a record for the most clean sheets accomplished in a single Premier League season (25), set during Chelsea’s 2004–05 title-winning campaign).
He also has a club record at his former team Sparta Praha, having gone 928 minutes unbeaten in all competitions in 2001–2002, when his unbeaten run in Czech league competition was combined with his performances in the UEFA Champions League. During the 2004–05 season, Čech went 1,025 minutes without conceding a goal — a former Premier League record until it was surpassed by Edwin van der Sar of Manchester United on 27 January 2009. Čech also won the Barclays Golden Gloves in both the 2004/2005 and 2009/2010 seasons. [
Although it's not 6'8'', hell even Gianluigi Buffon is 6'3'', which is fairly tall by soccer standards, and IMO, he is the best keeper in the world.
In short, tall dudes can definitely play keeper, and several of the best keepers in the world are freakishly tall.
Webber's 6'10". There's a pretty significant difference between 6'5" and 6'10".
I don't think it can be done. There's actually a case study: Hakeem Olajuwon actually was a soccer goalie until he outgrew the position and was steered into basketball. And certainly, he had great, great feet.
I was talking about LeBron as a potential keeper. CWebb would make for a terrible keeper IMO ( and could never play soccer period). I guess my main point was 6'8'' is pretty tall, but we've seen ridiculously tall keepers work before, because several of the top keepers are freakishly tall as is, so I could see LeBron working out at keeper, due to his amazing athleticism making up for the 3 extra inches he has on van der Sar and Cech.