The challenge is: Make your own soccer team. This team will consist of current players. I am taking into account performance over the last few seasons averaged out. Feel free to whatever formation you like. I am using as basic 4-4-2 with a defensive mid and offensive mid. My team isn’t based on stats, but rather what team I think would be most bad-ass to watch if they stepped out on the pitch. I will make this disclaimer, living in
GK) Petr Cech-- This is my most ambivalent choice. It’s kind of by default. Whenever I see him, he is really impressive. I know he has been injured lately. Kahn has fallen off. Friedel has fallen off a little. Buffon is playing in a lesser division.
CB) Fabio Cannavaro-- His World Cup was one of the most dominant sports performances I have ever seen.
CB) John Terry-- Also Injured. His clearances off the line are very impressive. His positioning is right-on.
LB) Phillip Lahm-- Right footed left-back. His runs up the flank and cuts to the middle are super-rad.
RB) Gianluca Zambrotta-- Wins by default. When in doubt about defense, choose an Italian.
DM) Michael Essien-- Hard Core. Sweet outside shot as well.
LM) Arjen Robben-- His hard charges straight up the left side look like a train flying off the tracks.
RM) Cristiano Ronaldo-- Freak. Freak.
OM) Park Ji-Sung-- I almost took the easy route and went with Ronaldinho, but Park is such a stamina warrior. He grabs soccer in a choke-hold.
CF) Thierry Henry-- He’s got that soccer build and smooth skills. A true center-forward.
ST) Zlatan Ibrahimović-- If she got anything? Yes, she got Zlatan!" –as to whether he got his girlfriend something for their engagement. The Dominque Wilkins of soccer.
Ok. The next team is going to be an all-time team. It can be current players or players who are no longer involved in the game. The thing here is that they can be included in the team for a consideration of their whole career or one game or one shot or tackle or moment that made them stand out. Just make sure to point out the reason for their inclusion. Again, use whatever formation you like. This time I am going with a 4-3-1-2, with the 1 being a withdrawn striker.
GK) Jorge Campos—What a nutter. A 5’9” goalie with bright neon uniforms, flying around between the posts, and occasionally meandering up the pitch with the ball. Bring up Jorge Campos when you were talking about soccer and everyone will inevitably chuckle and shake their head. A decent legacy.
CB) Sol Campbell—His fall-off has been depressing but, he was such a physical presence. I always looked forward to watching him overawe his opponents. In soccer you can be 6’2” and tower over most other players.
CB) Oguchi Onyewu—You know which game. September 2005. USA vs. Mexico in which Onyewu manhandled Jared Borgetti.
LB) Roberto Carlos—I could include him for his manic runs on the attack, or his huge throw-ins. I could have him in the team because he is 5’6” with legs like a linebacker’s. He could play for my side because he looks like an illustration from a Tolkien novel. In the end though, he is in the team for just one thing.
RB) Tonny Sanneh—If I had known nothing about soccer, and only watched the 2002 World Cup, I would have thought that Sanneh was one of the elite players in the world. It never worked out that way for Tony, but I was in the stadium in Suwon when the U.S. beat Portugal. Tony Sanneh absolutely dominated. His performance against Germany was one of the finest efforts I have witnessed in any sport. 2002 World Cup Tony Sanneh starts for my team any day.
DM) Edgar Davids—This was my hardest pick. I really enjoy Patrick Viera’s lumbering athleticism. However, Davids is one of those players who plays like the game is killing him. In the end, it probably came down to his glasses.
LM) Ryan Giggs—I feel strange about this choice, but really, what is more exciting then watching Giggs fly up the line with that posture and the ball at his feet?
RM) David Beckham—Okay. Go ahead. I might as well have picked Harry Connick Jr. as my favorite jazz artist. I really wanted to go with George Best here, and it is so easy to hate on Beckham. He is in the team for one reason; England vs. Greece, October, 2001. Best individual effort in a team sport I have ever witnessed. I am not sure how I ended up watching this game live, but it was ridiculous. His effort outweighed the well touted Jordan with a cold vs. Jazz standard by far. The soccer pitch is a large area and he was everywhere, doing everything on it. Hate on Becks but he is in the team for that game.
WS) Eric Cantona-- "I don't play against a particular team. I play against the idea of losing." “ I would love him to save me a place in his team - George Best that is, not God." "I might have said that, but on the whole I talk a lot of rubbish."
CF) Eusebio—His name flows among football enthusiasts like the rumor of a speakeasy. I heard about him for years before I had anything more than a vague idea about who he was. It was like hearing older punks talk about having seen Embrace, or Bad Brains. Eusebio is not in my team due to his greatness, although he surely was great, he is in for the way his greatness still lies around the outside of the game like the fear of something emerging out of the edge of a forest at night.
CF) Pele—There is no way I couldn’t put him here. There is nothing I can add about Pele. One thing that I found impressive watching old films of him is his ball placement. His shots aren’t usually screaming bullets, but they were invariably perfectly, creatively and beautifully placed. His shots were often preceded by what almost looks like a pre-shot. He would lay the ball in space just past the last defender in a manner that left it in a perfect position to be shot by him when he reconnected with it. Also, he did it with Xuxa. Well done Pele.