Ever imagine how good the United States would be at soccer if the country’s best athletes decided to focus on soccer, instead of soccer or basketball? I know, it’s a popular talking point for Americans, who try to defend their country’s relatively weak soccer team. Don’t get me wrong: US soccer has made great strides. We’ve gotten out of three of the last four group stages, but imagine how good we could be if our best athletes were soccer players. Without even considering the NFL, let’s construct a World Cup roster from the current players in the NBA, who are American.
Goalie: LeBron James
LeBron would be the idea goalie, center defender, center-mid, and center striker. He would be perfect no matter where you put him. In goal though, he would never lose a ball in the air, and he’d be stronger than any striker he encountered on corner kicks. He’s also agile enough to dive and make quick stops. You can count on clean sheets with LeBron in goal.
Left Back: Josh Smith
Strong, fast, and tall. Smith could chase down guys down, attack from the back, and win balls in the air. He’d be a versatile guy that could defend and attack with power.
Center Back: Blake Griffin
Perhaps the strongest player on the field, Griffin would be Oguchi Onyewu 100.0, winning balls in the air and being the most intimidating player on the field.
Right Back: Kenneth Faried
A relentless player that goes for every loose ball, Faried would be an asset on the field. He’d win balls in the air, dispossess the ball in the midfield, and stay out of the playmakers’ way.
Left Center Defensive Mid: Lance Stephenson
There to break up plays, be physical, and stop the opposing team’s attacks, Stephenson would be perfect. He’d get under guys’ skin. Not the most talented player on the field, but one of the most effective.
Right Center Defensive Mid: Andre Iguodala
Iguodala isn’t the chippy player Stephenson is, but he is a team player that would get in the middle of scrums to get the ball. He’d be a selfless distributor that is also a disruptor. He wouldn’t get the recognition of many other players, but he’d be integral to the team unity.
Center Attacking Mid: Chris Paul
The biggest playmaker on the team, Paul would be the set-up guy for the strikers. He’d make life easier for the guys up top and on the wing. He’d know when to counterattack and when to wait for his wingers.
Right Midfield: Jimmy Butler
Butler gets the nod over Paul George because Butler is perhaps the most tireless worker in the league. He plays insane minutes and is as tough as they come. Not the most skilled player, but hardest-working.
Left Midfield: Kawhi Leonard
Another tireless worker that would use his pace up and down the sideline. He’d put in crosses all day, getting no credit, but being crucial to the team’s success. Not to mention he’d thrive in the air.
Right Striker: Russell Westbrook
The best combination of size, speed, and craziness on the field. The US’ version of Luis Suarez, except better. He’d be a menace for opposing defenders. He’d also be the ideal sweeper, except for the possibility of red cards due to questionable decision-making.
Left Striker: John Wall
The speediest guy on the field. Wall would flash no look passes and kick out to the wingers. Then when the defense was unsuspecting, he’d push the ball and slither his way into the box.
Conley is ambidextrous and would be able to use both feet in the middle of the field. He’d be able to slice his way in between defenders, dish the ball, and put in the occasional deep ball.
Should be a starter on the wing with his defense and offensive ability, but would be the first sub in the game when Jimmy Butler got tired.
An extremely quick, elusive, slippery player always looking to score. He’d be the ideal sub up front to attack already-tired defenders in the second half.
Could come in for Paul or Conley if they weren’t creating opportunities for others. He’d be versatile and could play up front as well, if needed.
A low center of gravity and an insane amount of speed would leave the defenders on their heels. He could play up front, in the playmaking position behind the forwards, or on the wing.
A long, wiry defender and center defensive-mid, Carter-Williams would be adept at dispossessing the ball off others. Expecting offense from him would be unwise, but he could distribute the ball to the open guy.
Underrated in his ability to create. Thomas would be another ideal forward, wrecking havoc up top. He is extremely quick and has a natural skill with the ball.
A tall, fast player that would kill players in the air. Gay would be a weak passer and that would keep him off the field, but in the right type of game, he could thrive.
A pesky player that could play any role. He could disrupt the opposing team’s offense, create for others, or attack the defense himself.
A backup keeper in case we needed to move LeBron out of goal, Davis is quick enough, long athletic, and athletic enough to stop anything. With his 7’4″ wingspan, Davis could reach anything without even diving.
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