The question was posed on Twitter Monday night: “If you put together a team of top athletes from other sports, with a year of training, could they compete in a match with the United States Men’s National Soccer Team?”
The only real answer that question needs is a roll of the eyes and an exasperated sigh. I’ll give it more respect than it deserves and deliver a longer answer.
First, why is soccer so disrespected in this country? Non-fans aren’t content to just not watch the sport, they have to go out of their way to try to put it down. Why? Is there some sort of insecurity because soccer is gaining in popularity? I’m a football fan, a baseball fan, a basketball fan, a soccer fan and more. There is room for all of them, I promise.
Second, which athletes would be on this team that trains for one year? My guess is that it would be mostly basketball players and NFL defensive backs, maybe a wide receiver or running back. Those guys have the quickest feet and can change direction the best.
Let them train for a year and take the field against the USMNT and the game wouldn’t be close. The skill the top soccer players have with the ball at their feet can’t be replicated with one year of training, I don’t care if it’s LeBron James or Russell Westbrook trying to do it.
The timing of the USA back line would likely have the “top athletes” offside any time they happened to get forward, which wouldn’t be often.
How would the “top athletes” stop Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley or Christian Pulisic? Pulisic, an 18 year old, would run circles around any defender.
These guys simply have too much skill and nuance in a game that requires a ton of skill and nuance. You can’t reach that level in one year. It takes a lifetime. The “top athletes” wouldn’t be the USMNT, they wouldn’t beat Sporting Kansas City and they wouldn’t be the Swope Park Rangers.