Originally Posted by RedTeamGo!
Spain/England/Germany/Brazil/Argentina/Holland/France all have their best athletes playing soccer.
I just find it difficult to believe Reggie Bush would not be one of the greatest soccer players in the world if he played soccer his whole life.
How about Lebron James in the middle of the box on corner kicks? I don't think any player in the world could stop him in that scenario.
That's a bit of a misconception. For instance, if you're tall and athletic in Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany, there's a very good chance you're playing basketball. There's no shortage of rugby players in England and France. The Dutch are insane for speed skating. Rafa Nadal plays tennis even though one of his uncles played for Barcelona.
That's not even touching on track athletes. Also, Brazil has got great athletes in all kinds of sports. Like the U.S., it's capable of producing talent in a massive array of sports.
Also, soccer is deceptively hard to play. It is not kind to tall kids, who struggle with their foot skills. If you hit an awkward, lanky phase, you're pretty much out of the game of soccer. Leo Messi is 5'6" with his cleats on. Diego Maradona was roughly the same size. Neither one ever was close to being Argentina's best athlete, but they are two of the greatest soccer players ever.
I've seen gifted athletes flame out in soccer. Big, fast, strong, great springs, but they couldn't master technique. Players like that dominate at young ages, but as the game becomes more complex and technical, they become liabilities. Running and staying in control of a ball at your feet is vastly different than regular running. Reggie Bush might be great at throwing a stutter step, shoulder fake and then changing direction at speed, but he might never have been able to master it while making a ball travel with him.
And first touch, passing, and movement off the ball are all more important than dribbling.
Also, soccer's cruel to fast-twitch athletes. In football they give you almost a minutes to recover between plays. In soccer if you get into your red zone, the game keeps going. In a full soccer game, players are running a minimum of 10k.
I'm sure that there's a healthy number of potential great soccer players in the U.S. who are playing other sports, but I suspect that NFL, NBA and MLB stars aren't them. The bulk required to succeed in football, the height required to succeed in basketball, the eye-hand coordination required to succeed in baseball, none of that translates well to soccer. Rather, it's the football player who wasn't quite big enough, the basketball player who wasn't quite tall enough, the baseball player who never quite mastered the art of hitting - those are the athletes who more likely slipped through the cracks. They were good at other sports thanks to their high level of athleticism (maybe played in college or in the minors), but maybe they could have been great at soccer.