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Five other NFL players who could make it in soccer
With the NFL entering a lockout due to a dispute between players and owners over a new collective contract, Cincinnati Bengals wide-receiver Chad Ochocinco is to join Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City on a four day trial next week.
With that news in mind, here are five other NFL players who could have the attributes to switch codes and some light-hearted suggestions on where in MLS they might play:
ADRIAN PETERSON (Minnesota Vikings, running-back)
There aren’t too many positions in a gridiron team that lend themselves to the kind of physical abilities you need in soccer. Forget the hefty linemen with their heavy guts for starters. But a running-back, with that explosive pace and strength needed to burst through a defensive line, is the kind of athlete who could certainly make the transition to soccer. It is hard to think of a better example than Peterson who has electric pace combined with great footwork. Had Peterson been born in almost anywhere else in the world he would be using that pace to get round the back of an opposition defence and whip in a cross for a striker.
Suggested MLS move: David Beckham is 36 in May and really should be used in a deeper, central role rather than slogging his guts out on the flank. L.A Galaxy could use Peterson’s injection of pace and energy on the right wing.
AARON RODGERS (Green Bay Packers, Quarterback)
Of all the quarterbacks in the NFL, Rodgers has the best footwork – he can twist and turn his way out of trouble avoiding sacks and finding time and space to make the killer pass. Of course it is a different story all together making those moves with a ball at your feet rather than in your hands but Rodgers, who played soccer and basketball at school before switching to football, looks the kind of athlete who could switch if used in the right role. And the right position for Rodgers would be as a deep lying playmaker in the mould of AC Milan and Italy’s Andrea Pirlo.
Suggested MLS move: FC Dallas lost their midfield general Dax McCarty to D.C United in the off-season and could do with a touch of finesse in that role.
RAY LEWIS (BALTIMORE RAVENS, Linebacker)
The most feared man in the NFL would surely make opponents tremble in MLS too. Lewis takes no prisoners but allied with his violent aggression is the ability to know when to make his move, who to hit and where. The same principles apply to a defensive midfield enforcer. Imagine Lewis marauding around the centre of the park, snapping at the heels of opposition playmakers, producing crunching tackles and then laying the ball off to a more creative team-mate. Forget Gennaro Gattuso, who would want to go into a 50-50 tackle with Ray Lewis?
Suggested MLS move: Real Salt Lake are the prettiest team in MLS, playing some lovely passing football but they could do with a ruthless edge in midfield. Kyle Beckerman would surely benefit from the ball-winning ability of Lewis alongside him.
HEATH MILLER (PITTSBURGH STEELERS, Tight-end)
Tight-ends are the all-rounders of the NFL – they need to be big and strong but also mobile and skillful. That means their physique has to allow them to mix-it with the heavy boys while still being quick enough to get themselves open and get on the end of passes. Such ingredients make them the kind of athletes who could easily adapt to the ‘big man’ roles in soccer – centre-forward or central defender. Miller, whose wife Katie played soccer at youth international level for the United States national team, looks like a strapping centre-half who could probably be thrust into action as an emergency striker in the last ten minutes if his team need to apply some late aerial pressure. He’s six foot five inches and would be a real handful at set-pieces.
Suggested MLS move: MLS champions Colorado Rapids, with their English coach Gary Smith, like to play more of a good old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon physical football than the average MLS team. Miller would fit in perfectly.
LARRY FITZGERALD (ARIZONA CARDINALS, Wide receiver)
Arguably the safest pair of hands in the NFL, superbly agile and capable of rising above the most clingy of cornerbacks to make the crucial catch. Its pretty obvious what position Larry Fitzgerald should play. The United States has produced plenty of international quality goalkeepers – Tim Howard, Brad Friedel, and Kasey Keller being just three and Fitzgerald surely has all the attributes needed.
Suggested MLS move: Goalkeepers have to serve their time. Kasey Keller is in his final year at the Seattle Sounders before retirement and would be the perfect mentor for Fitzgerald.
Any further suggestions? Tom Brady in centre midfield for the New England Revolution, Troy Polamalu at centre-back for D.C United?
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