Open Mic: The "What If's" of the US National Team

Joe D.Analyst IJune 18, 2008

I apologize to the US National Team for this article.  I'd be quite mad also if some amateur writer would even suggest putting an MMA fighter on the team.

With the exception of an 8-0 thumping in a World Cup qualifier against the Barbados National Team; team USA has struggled a bit in the international scene.  While not lacking talent, as evident by the success of Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan (in America) and Brian Ching it just seems something is missing from this squad.  As a supporter of the team, it's going to be a while before prospects such as Brek Shea will hit the team; so why not go for the hypotheticals? 

If you could grab other athletes from various sports to join the USA National Team; who would it be?  Keeping a majority of the team including Donovan, Ching, Dempsey, Freddy Adu and Carlos Bocanegra; let's fill in a few players with some of the major names in sports.

Looking back at the dreadful performance in the 2006 World Cup, there were some positives.  One positive was the play of Eddie Johnson.  No, he didn't play well but Johnson's speed made for some potential exciting plays from the 75th minute and onwards.  You want a forward who can be a substitute with speed just to go pass tired defenders. 

Welcome to the US National Team, Trindon Holliday!  Holliday, a current KR/PR for the LSU Tigers in football is also a highly decorated college sprinter.  While at a diminutive size, Holliday's burst and ability to change decoration on a dime would bring some life to a lifeless team.  Holliday would be thrown into the Johnson role. 

As a Cross Country runner for my high school (as well as a distance runner for track), it's quite common to see soccer players go from soccer to distance running.  Olympian miler Alan Webb made the transition in 8th grade but now I'm going to revert him back to be a midfielder for the US National Team.   Midfielders are usually on the run most often and as a freshman at Michigan, Webb proved his endurance by winning 8ks and 10ks right out of high school.  Plus Webb is one of a rare few High School runners to go sub-4 in the mile at a 3:53. 

England F Peter Crouch has shown the soccer world that sometimes, all you need is height and athleticism to succeed.  While Crouch's overall game is lacking, his tall frame makes it easy for him to head oncoming corner kicks into the net.  Randy Moss has the height and leaping ability to greatly aid the US team's offense.  Also Moss just seems to want to win and that attitude alone can only help the team's morale. 

When thinking of a goalie, all that's required usually are some quick reflexes and some athletic ability.  Floyd Mayweather has awfully quick hands but lacks the height to stretch out for a ball. Yes, hockey goalies could posseses an advantage but for a lack of much American talent (yeah, John Grahame in goal?) severely dwindles that market.  Randy Johnson has made some great plays on the mound, but his age hurts his stock.  So without much of an outlet, let's dip into the NFL pool again.  After being able to easily convert from basketball to the NFL, Antonio Gates has all you need in looking for a goalie.  Wingspan?  Check.  Athleticism?  Check.  Relative Youth?  Check.  Acrobatic catches leading towards the notion of quick-thinking?  Check.  He's even got a menacing stare that could send some of the Italian players heading to the hills.  Plus, this time they can't fake injury. 

One last component to any sport is the intimidation factor.  Heading off the bus, it's common for opposing teams to see the talent that's about to be seen.  For that main purpose, let's throw Kimbo Sliceon the team.  He'll never play a minute in a game, but watching him on YouTube made me even roll back a bit in the computer chair.  Then again, there are players on the other National rosters that are built much like his YouTube opponents (wonder if Dreads is still living). 

With Holliday, Webb, Gates, Moss and Slice; you have some starpower and talent to a team that needs both.  But, America still won't be able to keep up with the South American and European firepowers.  Why?  There just isn't any appeal towards the game of soccer.  Sure, we cared a bit about David Beckham and most people know of Landon Donovan but besides that the common thought is "Why is this on instead of (fill in the blank)?".  The MLS is improving but still lacks a major TV deal, endorsements, player recognition and unless the USA National Team improves; it'll stay that way.  There needs to be a charismatic figure like a Beckham to give some appeal.  Someone who would make people tune in.  But until that happens, soccer will remain a 2nd tier sport in the US.

Comments Appreciated.