I know the title of this post will probably offend a few people but I think this is a valid argument. I will not sit here and say that soccer players are not athletic. In fact, soccer is one of the most trying sports on the body and rarely do players stop moving throughout the game that often goes for over an hour and a half.
That being said, there’s a lot to say about why the United States can’t compete with the Brazils, the Argentinas, and the Spains of the world on a regular basis in world competition in soccer.
Most all professional athletes today have started their athletic careers from a very early age. There are those exceptions where they didn’t play for a team until the senior year in high school and turned out to be naturally gifted but for the most part, athletes today begin with kid leagues and rec leagues.
If you were to ask 100 random people in the states “who is the most athletic person in England?” most everyone would name Wayne Rooney or David Beckham (both soccer players for those of you living under rocks). The same can be said of other European countries (Portugal: Christiano Ronaldo, Holland: Sneider or Robben, etc.)
But if you were to ask those same 100 people “who is the most athletic person in America?”, you will assuredly get mixed opinions ranging from LeBron James to Kobe Bryant to Chris Johnson. Whoever that American might be, I would be surprised to hear Landon Donovan or Freddy Adu or Jozy Altidore. Although each of these men is extremely athletic, they just don’t belong in the same sentence when talking about pure, athletic, talent. Could they beat the tar out of Kobe, LeBron, or really any other NBA or NFL star when it comes to conditioning and cardio endurance? Sure! But that’s just what it is, conditioning.
If NBA players were required to run around for over an hour and a half, I’m sure their conditioning would match that of our soccer stars. The plain and simple fact of the matter is, America’s 50 greatest athletes are playing in other leagues.
You tell me who on the soccer pitch is going to out-jump LeBron James for a header. You tell me who, on the USA World Cup team, is going to beat Chris Johnson in a foot race for a free ball. No one. Landon Donovan looks like “George” from “Seinfeld” next to these guys.
The fact that the United States can make it as far as they do in the World Cup tournament is a tribute to the type of athletes we do have in this country because if we had a roster filled with the Kobes, LeBrons, and Ochocincos of the country, well, I think we all know who would be taking home the World Cup every 4 years and it sure wouldn’t be Spain or Brazil or Argentina.