So the 2018 World Cup has kicked off in Russia, and in case you missed it, the USA isn’t there. That’s right, Team USA failed to qualify for the first time since 1986. Which leaves us daydreaming: How good would our team be if soccer were the biggest sport in America—as it is in many other countries—and our best athletes played? We have no idea, but it’s fun to imagine, right? Check out our dream starting 11, plus some super subs and a manager, on the following pages…
Goalkeeper: Kevin Durant Yes, he’s best known for his offense, but another figure sticks out to us: 7 feet, 5 inches. That’s KD’s ridiculous wingspan, and with his quick feet and active hands, we could see him as an incredible shot stopper—who occasionally dribbles the length of the field and chips the opposing goalkeeper.
Fullback: Demetrious Johnson The flyweight champ is widely considered the quickest and best pound-for-pound fighter in UFC, and we are guessing his wrestling and Muay Thai skills would make for some pretty awesome tackling and kicking.
Center back: John Scott Every side needs a “hard man,” and the 6’8” Scott, who magically became the NHL All-Star game MVP a couple years back before retiring, is perfect for the job. The way we see it, 544 penalty minutes can’t be wrong. (Oh and yes, he’s technically Canadian, but the dude played in the US for years, so we’re claiming him!)
Center back: Luke Kuechly We know, Richard Sherman is amazing—and great at taking out people who kick stuff—but literally all Kuechly does is tackle, to the tune of 818 takedowns in six seasons. And we’d just love to see Ronaldo try to go over the middle on him.
Fullback: Yadier Molina OK, he might not be the quickest man on the pitch, but Molina has spent more than a decade preventing balls from flying past him at 90 miles per hour. We’ve gotta think that would come in handy on the pitch.
Wing midfielder: Bryce Harper Unbelievable athlete, plays his guts out, killer hair and beard, and always good for a colorful quote. That’s enough to make the cut in our book.
Center midfielder: LeBron James If you can’t figure out why we’d want this 14-time All-Star, four-time MVP and three-time NBA Finals MVP anchoring the midfield… you don’t watch much sports, do you?
Center midfielder: Rob Gronkowski Yo soy fiesta! Need we say more?
Wing midfielder: Kris Bryant The 2016 NL MVP is just 26 and has already done just about everything you can do in baseball. Plus if he can lead the Cubs (the Cubs!) to a World Series title, helping the USA win the World Cup should be a walk in the ballpark.
Forward: Odell Beckham Junior Our favorite forwards are fast, flashy and flamboyant. OBJ is all that and more. He just needs to learn how to replace those stunning one-hand grabs with scintillating scissor kicks—and stay healthy!—and he’ll be lighting up the back of the net on the reg.
Forward: Carmelo Anthony The guys up front don’t need to play defense—or even pass, really—as long as they can score in bunches. We rest our case.
Super sub: CM Punk We have no idea whether the pro wrestler turned mixed martial artist would be any good at all, but every team needs a skilled trash talker, and Punk is one of the best.
Super sub: Pete Weber Sure, he’s 55 years old, but nobody wins like this guy (37 PBA titles) and his history of alcohol and drug problems combined with a massive ego make him a perfect fit for any world-class side.
Super sub: Tiger Woods His skills have declined dramatically, but someone’s gotta plan the extracurricular activities and get these guys in trouble with their WAGs, right?
Manager: Bill Belichick All the hoodied one does is win, and if you hate him, it’s only because he’s not running your team. So we imagine he’d have Team USA spygating, deflating and dominating pretty much overnight.Photo illustrations by Bryan Mayes