Miracle on the Pitch
⚽ What if the best U.S. born athletes grew up playing soccer? ⚽️
- •What if... our 1990 USMNT wasn't just our first team to advance to group play in the World Cup since 1950?
- •What if... that was our Dream Team, or our "Miracle on the Pitch" and they went all the way in 1990 and won the World Cup?sparking a soccer eruption not seen in this country since we all played AYSO and had orange slices at halftime.
- •For this hypothetical exercise, soccer is the most popular sport in our country. All of our athletes grow up playing soccer and dreaming of being stars on the pitch for our Olympic and World Cup teams.The likes of Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Jim Brown, Sandy Koufax and Bill Russell are all revered athletes for what they did on the Pitch, not the basketball court, football field or baseball diamond. All of our athletes skills transition from their sport of expertise to soccer as best as can be expected(or argued), as if they'd been training their entire life.
- •What if our World Cup team in 1990 featured a roster like this?Why 1990? Because a revolution has to start somewhere... and, I originally wrote this as a blog a few years ago and it included my ideas for the hypothetical 2014 USMNT as well. You can find that here: http://2020sports.sportsblog.com/posts/726050/miracle_on_the_pitch.html
- •Goalie - Scottie Pippen25 years old, 6'7, tremendous wingspan, excellent reflexes and athletic ability, huge hands, the ten time NBA defensive player of the year blocked nearly a thousand shots in his career; surely he could stop a few shots on goal.
- •Left Back - Deion Sanders23 years old, the premiere shut-down corner in the NFL for over a decade, with sub 4.2/40 speed that might not get fully utilized as a defender on team USA. But, in a right footed world, Prime Time is the guy you want at Left Back.
- •Center Back - Mike Tyson24 years old, the baddest dude on the planet! If anyone has to be your last line of defense, willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the opponent doesn't get to the goalie, I'd want it to be 24y/o Mike Tyson. Of course, he still could've been a great fighter, plenty of world class soccer playing countries also produce great fighters, but isn't this team so much more exciting with him on it? Also, it wouldn't be unheard of if he lost his mind, temporarily, and bit some Bulgarians ear off.
- •Center Back - Rickey Henderson32 years old, the veteran of the team, the captain. The man who holds the record for most stolen bases in a season, in a career and in a video game(*217 in a single-season on MLB 99 thanks to yours truly). Rickey has the size, athleticism and skill-set to wreak havoc on opposing strikers and quickly turn it into a break away for team USA. He also might've invented the head-first slide tackle.
- •Right Back - Herschel Walker28 years old, Heisman trophy winner, genetic freak. Just typing Herschel Walker makes me glad this is completely hypothetical, because if we ever put together a team where Herschel freaking Walker was asked to just stay in the back and focus on defense, it really wouldn't be fair for the rest of the world.
- •Left Mid-Fielder - Ken Griffey, Jr.21 years old, the kid would take advantage of his opponents with a rare combination of size, speed and athleticism. Junior would provide an excellent left-footed option in the mid-field to help team USA take advantage of spacing and positioning, and his skills on defense would make him great in the middle of the pitch.
- •Defensive Mid-Fielder - Bo Jackson28 years old, the athletic freak would now be on his third World Cup team, a veteran of the international pitch (think Jozy Altidore on steroids). [yes, I'm aware Altidore is a striker...]. Do I really need an explanation for Bo Jackson? The man is 6'1 220lbs and runs a sub 4.2 40yard dash. He played professional football AND baseball. This brings the team Heisman trophy count to 3.
- •Attacking Mid-Fielder - Barry Sanders22 years old, along with Griffey he represents the youth movement on 1990 USMNT. Barry Sanders also brings the shiftiest moves & the most ridiculous agility known to man, if he can do half of the things he did on a football field with a soccer ball at the end of his feet, we might not even need to suit up the other ten players(which I'm pretty sure is something the Lions tried around 1990 as well). He could win the ball at the point of attack and dribble around or through the defense with ease.
- •Right Mid-Fielder - Carl Lewis29 years old, the only person on the pitch who can make Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker look slow. One of the greatest American Olympians, he would wreak havoc streaking up the right side of the pitch awaiting a pass from Barry Sanders as he spun and juked through the defense. Since Lewis was also a long jumper, with the proper training, he would likely be a beast on headers in the box as well.
- •Striker - Jerry Rice28 years old, the greatest scoring threat on the football field now looks to become the greatest scoring threat on the futbol field. Rice might not have the natural speed and quickness, especially for this team, to be leading the offensive charge but his track record speaks for itself. He always found a way to the end zone in the NFL, and I'm taking my chances those skills would translate to the soccer pitch as well.
- •Striker - Michael Jordan27 years old, the greatest winner in modern American team sports. 1990 Michael Jordan would be playing on his second World Cup team, entering his prime – a level of skill only seen before by the likes of Pele, only now its part of a 6'6 body with a killer instinct akin to Dexter Morgan.
- •Without even getting into the other 12 roster spots, surely a team like that could've made it out of Group play versus Austria, Czechoslovakia and Italy. Our super athletic, scarily competitive, hypothetical 1990 USMNT has all the makings of a team that could challenge West Germany or Argentina, the two finals teams from that year.Assuming the USMNT succeeded in knocking off the West Germans in 1990, and a bunch of kids who were born around that same time decided to keep playing soccer because it's our hypothetical national pass-time, what might our current 2016 USMNT roster look like?
- •I list requested @aus10 to give us the hypothetical 2016 USMNT roster.