The World Cup begins Thursday. With that in mind, let's take a look at the New York Giants' roster and see what kind of soccer team we can come up with.
For those of who are soccer aficionados and might be wondering, this will be a 'flat' 4-4-2 alignment -- four defenders, four midfielders, two forwards. So, let's see where this goes.
Jason Pierre-Paul -- Who else could I put here? At his best, Pierre-Paul is a freak athlete with leaping ability, quickness and fearlessness. At 6-foot-5, 275 pounds he should be able to cover quite a bit of ground.
Right Back: Prince Amukamara -- Prince did an excellent job defending the right side for the Giants last season, and this seems like a natural fit. Besides, soccer is a crazy sport, the more you read about Prince the more you think he's a little nuts himself, and all of that just makes it impossible not to put him in the lineup.
Center Back: Markus Kuhn -- Kuhn, the first NFL player from Germany, had to have a spot on this team. The 6-4, 303-pound Kuhn would be a bruising presence in front of JPP and an impenetrable wall on set-piece opportunities.
Center Back: Mark Herzlich -- This one just feels right. It's not 'Game of Thrones,' but the 6-4, 246-pound Herzlich has the size and strength to patrol the middle of the field and seems like a guy who would be a wrecking ball defending corner kicks and other set-piece opportunities. I thought about Jon Beason here, but on a soccer pitch -- yes, 'pitch,' -- I chose Herzlich's athleticism over Beason's smarts.
Left Back: Cooper Taylor -- A difficult decision here between Taylor and cornerback Walter Thurmond. In the end I chose the 6-4, 230-pound Taylor over the 5-11, 190-pound Thurmond simply because of size, strength and the importance of being able to play the ball out of the air in the defensive zone.
Right Midfield: David Wilson -- This was a tough call, but in the end I could not ignore Wilson's game-breaking speed. Outside midfielders, responsible for making runs that help the offense and tracking back to support the defense, run more than just about anyone. Wilson was born to run, and dangerous as all get-out when he gets the ball on the outside. The back flip gives him a ready-made goal-scoring celebration. Thought about Reuben Randle here, but Wilson's speed won me over. Besides, Randle paired next to Manning? Something about that made me queasy.
Central Midfield: Eli Manning -- You need at least one center midfielder who can distribute the ball and create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Won't take anybody off the dribble, and lack of foot speed might be a liability on the defensive end, but at his best his play-making skills are outstanding.
Central Midfield: Antrel Rolle -- A 'do whatever you need' kind of player, Rolle could get forward on offense, get back on defense and orchestrate in the middle of the field. He isn't a blazer, but he should have enough speed to cover for Manning's lack of quickness in the middle of the field.
Left Midfield: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie -- You have to use Rodgers-Cromartie's athleticism somewhere, and the left midfield spot seems like the perfect place. Rodgers-Cromartie could use his size at 6-2 to help on set pieces and his speed and athleticism to get back and help defensively. I thought about playing DRC strictly as a defender, but didn't want to limit him.
Victor Cruz -- You need play-makers who can put the ball in the net on the offensive end here. Cruz is about the best the Giants have. Besides, with the salsa dance at the ready he already has a worthy goal-scoring celebration.
Odell Beckham Jr. -- This is a big stage, and a big responsibility, for an untested rookie. GM Jerry Reese did say when he drafted him, however, that Beckham can score three different ways. Besides, he has the right last name for soccer.
World Cup Coverage
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