Doug Robinson: Imagine Kobe and Vick on the soccer field

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  • sportsfanforlife salt lake city, UT
    July 9, 2014 2:49 p.m.


    "It's pretty easy to "hit as hard as [you] can" wearing a helmet and body armor, isn't it?"

    THAT statement alone is the most ignorant thing i've heard on the desnews, and i hear a lot of ignorant things on here. But that one takes the cake LOL. You clearly have never played a down of football in your life. You soccer whiners are a hilarious joke. There has been MUCH worse injuries in football and that's a fact. You soccer players need to get real and realize it doesnt take toughness to play soccer AT ALL compared to football. if it were that easy, ya boy Austin Collie would still be making a big impact in the league. He's not because he has concussions that limit him from playing. He has "body armour" on as well but how much did that help him? lol you soccer players are funny.

  • Socal Coug San Diego, CA
    July 8, 2014 12:07 p.m.

    Look, it's not an athlete issue or a non-major sport issue. It's a class issue. Any time you have someone barefoot kicking around a piece of paper and having hardships that the ONLY way to get out of this and save my family is to play soccer. I have seen that in other countries. For most it's the only way out. We have similar basketball (and sometimes football) stories on the courts in the projects. And if you're good, they will find you.
    There has to be trial and need and desperation.
    I came from middle-upper class and I couldn't afford soccer with all it's snobbery, expensive tournaments, etc. So I played "rec" which is for anyone, and soccer was 5th on my list of sports.
    The guys that grow up to play soccer didn't have that hard upbringing to make it a do-or-die struggle. But that's where greatness comes from.

  • H. Bob Salt Lake City, UT
    July 7, 2014 10:52 p.m.

    It's pretty easy to "hit as hard as [you] can" wearing a helmet and body armor, isn't it? Again, try having someone kick you with cleats on in the shin and then tell me how quick you're going to jump up and start playing again. And "laying [sic] on the ground for 5+ minutes"? The Babatunde broken arm happened in the 64th minute; he was stretchered off, his arm in an air cast, in the 66th. Two whole minutes for a real injury. If you really did watch the World Cup, you obviously didn't do it with a stopwatch. More than thirty seconds go by, and the trainers and stretcher come out. Again, I didn't say that flopping doesn't happen; it's just that those who are looking for it see it in everything, including legitimate, injurious fouls. It's really not flopping if someone just slid through your ankle. Ask Javi Morales.

  • sportsfanforlife salt lake city, UT
    July 7, 2014 1:39 p.m.


    you really need to get real. Everyone watched the world cup (cause it was shoved in everyones face) and saw how much flagrant and obvious flopping goes on. For you to sit there and try to pick the worst injuries that occur is absolutely laughable and just plain stupid. lets go out on the football field and hit as hard as we can and we'll see how tough you soccer players really are. And its laughable that you say "'flopping,' yeah, it happens occasionally,...". Who are you really trying to convince? LOL

  • sportsfanforlife salt lake city, UT
    July 7, 2014 12:41 p.m.

    yall need to stop with this falst narrative that soccer players are running for 90+ minutes with one break. YES, the GAME is ongoing for 90+ but the players are absolutely not running around for 90+ minutes, thats absolutely false. Half the time players are either walking around cause the ball is not in their vincinity, or they are laying there on the gound for 5+ minutes cause they just got done flopping.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 7, 2014 11:33 a.m.

    Flopping in Soccer (or any other sport) will not be coached out until referees stop rewarding it.

    Fouling is often strategic (to knock the other player off his line), and flopping is also strategic (to get the advantage back). As long as it's worth doing it... players are going to do it, and coaches are not going to complain about it (except when the OTHER team does it).

  • H. Bob Salt Lake City, UT
    July 7, 2014 6:20 a.m.

    A challenge for UU32 (and anyone else who complains about the flopping in soccer):
    I'll lace up my (steel) soccer cleats and you can put a quarter-inch-thick plastic "shin guard" in your sock, and then I'll kick you as hard as I can in the shin, preferably when your foot is planted in the turf. You let me know when you'll jump back up ready for another kick. Okay?
    Also, let me know any other sport you've seen where, as in the Argentina/Nigeria game, a player has had his arm broken by the ball. Was Babatunde flopping when a shot from his own teammate broke both his ulna and radius? They carried him off in a stretcher, too. And Neymar's got a broken vertebra. "Flopping," yeah, it happens occasionally, and usually it's done as it is in other sports--to call the ref's attention to another player's penchant for fouling and getting away with it. And yeah, there are teams (and countries) where it's accepted behavior. It is, however, something that can be coached out of a player's mindset.

  • Martin Blank Salt Lake City, UT
    July 7, 2014 6:07 a.m.

    The funniest assertions in these kinds of articles is that athletes look at the money involved and pick the US sports. The top-flight soccer players in the world are, actually, making just as much money if not more than top US athletes. If it's just about the money, we ought to be sending a lot more soccer players to the top leagues in the world. But it's not. Mostly it's about fame and endorsements. Everyone wants to be Michael Jordan and have their own Nike clothing line; never mind that it's possible to be even more famous if you're a Lionel Messi or a Christiano Ronaldo (or even a Tim Howard). The myopic US press (exemplified in this article) will tell you that no one will know who you are if you're a soccer player. The reality is quite different. Billions of people know who Messi is; fewer know who LeBron is.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    July 5, 2014 3:49 p.m.

    2 bits

    I would submit the most fit athletes in the world are tri-athletes. 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a marathon 26.2-mile, without a break
    To prove this we could have a twelve hour soccer game; soccer players on one side, and tri-athletes on the other.
    Oh, and no breaks.

  • Thinkin\' Man Rexburg, ID
    July 5, 2014 3:02 p.m.

    Face it -- the top NBA players are much higher caliber athletes than any of the top soccer athletes. They have to be. They're stronger from head to toe, more coordinated, have quicker reflexes from head to toe, and have more strategic minds. Basketball requires it.

  • eagle Provo, UT
    July 3, 2014 8:56 p.m.

    If Lebron or Jordan or Vick decided to play and concentrate on soccer, they would have been darn good. They are great athletes pure and simple.

  • caleb in new york Glen Cove, NY
    July 3, 2014 3:48 p.m.

    If these guys grew up from a young age dribbling a ball with their feet and kicking, passing and trapping, many of them would have developed the feet skill required to compete at an elite level. Soccer easily holds its own in excitement, intensity and entertainment as compared to the other big sports and the U.S.-centric sports that are more popular here. Endurance is definitely an important aspect of athleticism. Soccer fans receive far more condescension from other sports fans than vice-versa. Of course, because sports popularity to a large extent depends on tradition and sentimentality ingrained in individuals from their youth, soccer would have to be substantially superior to the other sports to quickly overcome the existing prejudices that many hold against it. Therefore, because other sports are also pretty entertaining we can expect soccer's climb to continue to be slow and steady. baseball is interesting and historic here in the U.S., but its popularity rides primarily on the coattails of history and not on its present entertainment value.

  • PacificCreek Puyallup, WA
    July 3, 2014 3:35 p.m.

    Why do soccer fans get so hurt when people don't love the sport? Dan Patrick has a term for soccer snobs 'Snockers' that look down on non fans with comments of 'You just don't get it' or 'It is the worlds game, America needs to get a clue'. Soccer is fun and exciting. When there is a shot on goal it is the most amazing moment in sports. I wish there were more shots and more scores but then it would be a different sport!

    The point of this article was that if the very best athletes the USA had to offer played soccer from a young age and kept developing then the US Soccer team would be so much more competitive. I think that the matches against Germany and Belgium were played so defensively minded because we don't have the Athletes to press the attack against other countries. It is like a small mid major playing a powerhouse in the NCAA tournament. They slow the game down to keep it close at the end.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 3, 2014 2:15 p.m.

    I don't know if I would pay to see King James the pitch. But it would be interesting to let the world cup team play the NBA All Star team, or the NFL Supper Bowl team (at soccer) and see how it turns out.

    After that.... I think people will be perfectly happy to leave James on the basketball court, and Vick on the football field (where they belong).

  • UU32 Bountiful, UT
    July 3, 2014 1:28 p.m.

    UT Brit,

    I made no claim about popularity, clearly soccer is popular. It just holds zero interest for me. I have given it several genuine chances, but every time I find myself either bored or annoyed. The whole, "soccer players run several miles during a game" argument doesn't thrill me - but I don't go line up to watch people finish a marathon either.

    No doubt Messi is skilled at soccer - but what other sport could he play? My argument isn't that he is skilled, but that he is very specialized and his athletic talents don't translate across other sports. (Which was the premise of the article)

    How many other sports have a stretcher come out if someone gets tripped? Granted, Manu Ginobli flops and gets calls in basketball, but he doesn't spend the next 5 minutes on the ground as though he is going to die.

    How did England end up doing in the world cup? I missed their round of 16 game - are they still alive?


  • UT Brit London, England
    July 3, 2014 12:46 p.m.


    If you started a proper youth program and trained them since they were 4 (yes children as young as 4 have been scouted and inducted by professional teams), had a competitive league with feeding lower leagues then yes you would be able to compete not dominate in international competitions.

    "unrivaled genetic pool"

    Hahahaha, yes only America can produce athletes, America no.1 USA USA USA.


    "Soccer is inferior"

    To what exactly? Are you trying to suggest that any American sport comes close to the soccer in popularity, dedication and support? Cricket is more popular worldwide than all American sports combined to put things in perspective.
    Soccer midfielders run around 7 miles per match, while trying to expertly setup passes and keep possession, these guys are inferior athletes? To who exactly?
    Messi is at the top of his game in the most popular sport in the world. Billions play soccer and he is the current master. No American athlete can make such a claim. Its amusing to see people trying to write him off.
    Costa Rica are in the last 8 in one of the most competitive environments in the world through teamwork and dedication.

  • UU32 Bountiful, UT
    July 3, 2014 11:40 a.m.

    Soccer is interesting once every four years and only really because we are force fed the World Cup. Watching a bunch of grown men pretend to be hurt every time anyone comes near them is not entertaining at all (other than the comical relief when they do the slo-mo replay of a really good flop). Soccer is inferior. It is interesting to the rest of the world because it can be played well by inferior athletes. What other sport would Messi be a superstar? What other sport does Costa Rica make it to the final 8 of a world championship? That may make it interesting in a lot of countries, but that doesn't make it a great sport. I don't care if Lebron or Kobe or Michael Vick could or couldn't play soccer - because Soccer doesn't require that level of athleticism.

  • Maverick West Jordan, UT
    July 3, 2014 11:10 a.m.

    I think you are way off base with this article. You assume that because you are an elite athlete at Basketball and Football that the skills are directly transferable to soccer and that you would be an elite athlete in soccer. Michael Jordan the greatest basketball player of all time could not compete at an elite level in Baseball. Steve Nash, 2-time MVP, who regularly plays soccer could not compete at an elite level in soccer. The skill set is vastly different. You don't see 6'8 250lbs athletes in soccer for a doesn't work. The sport played by most youth in the United States is Soccer. True that a lot of youth eventually leave to play other sports. Is it really because they love other sports more or that they can't make it in soccer. I do not believe Kevin Garnet would be an elite goalie...he's not quick enough. I do not believe Lebron James would be a soccer player...lacks the ability to control a ball with his feet.

  • pleblian salt lake city, utah
    July 3, 2014 10:25 a.m.

    The premise of this article is sound. America, at 330 million people to choose from, can dominate soccer. These soccer fans that trumpet technique forget that American football and basketball leagues demand similar levels of technique AND athleticism- and dominate the rest of the globe. The best soccer players in my high school took football scholarships and never touched a soccer ball again.

    When and if soccer becomes profitable television in America, America will dominate the World Cup just like it does basketball.

    America will introduce bigger faster athletes who produce more power that only one or two players on opposing teams can match. It is a numbers game. We have the unrivaled genetic pool, money and experienced athletic development.

  • BU52 Provo, ut
    July 3, 2014 10:21 a.m.

    Its a pretty weak excuse that the U.S. with 330 million people can't field a great team against Belgium with its 6 million. But even the NBA champs had to recruit from 5 different countries. I think the real problem is that American kids are too fat and too lazy or that the club teams eliminate the kids at an early age.

  • Tenn12 Orem, UT
    July 3, 2014 10:20 a.m.

    Has anyone noticed that the soccer enthusiasts are some of the most condescending fans to those who aren't lovers of the sport? You might want to try and be more inclusive to gain more fans to the sport.
    Brave Sir Robin once again shows his lack of knowledge about other sports. Football is far from a track meet. There is so much more to the sport than speed although just like in soccer, it is used as an advantage. Basketball is so much more than height. Your generalizations are laughable.
    Anyone with two eyes could watch these games and see that team USA lacked the speed and athleticism as other teams did overall. I listened to soccer commentators afterward say we DO lack speed and athleticism to pressure defenses and score. If our best athletes had grown up playing soccer and learned the skills at a young age that the athletes from other countries do, we would easily compete at the highest level.

  • UT Brit London, England
    July 3, 2014 10:02 a.m.


    Errrr we can and do play other sports you know. I grew up playing soccer, rugby, cricket, badminton and lots of others.

    Soccer is the most dominant sport by far but its not the only thing we do. Its ease of access is what helps it be the most dominant sport. As a child growing up, you had two sweatshirts at each end for the goal posts and a ball. Thats all you need and although it is crude you are playing kind of close to an actual soccer game. Compare this with what you would need to play an actual American football game.

  • UT Brit London, England
    July 3, 2014 9:31 a.m.

    No one likes players diving, the problem is that you can gain such an advantage from doing so.
    I have seen a player fall like a sack of potatoes and roll over for floor in apparent agony over a tap, then in the same match break his leg which made him wince a bit and asked to be taken off.
    We really need another official to review these dives during the match, people fear it will just lead to more downtime and its something that cannot be implimented in the lower leagues but it would be worth it.

  • RSL* Why, AZ
    July 3, 2014 9:24 a.m.

    I am happy I live in the U.S.A since we have options to play other sports besides soccer which most countries only have soccer. If we were like most countries where soccer is the primary sport then we would be a one of the best since we have the money and population to make great players.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    July 3, 2014 9:17 a.m.

    "(Frequent flopping and occasional biting)"

    Well, in that case!! Yes, the flops are annoying, but anyone watch Basketball recently. Common folks..... don't you remember that John Stockton's nick name outside of Utah was rag doll. Football... how many times have we seen "late game injuries" to get a time out. And baseball.... a good reason to take a nap. There was a study a couple of years ago that rated sports by the actual number of minutes of actual physical exertion. Baseball came in at the bottom, over the 3 plus hours duration of a game, it came in at a grand total of about 10 minutes of total physical activity. I am not saying some of these players are great athletes... its just they don't use it very much.

    I'll watch a soccer match on TV 100 times before I watch another baseball snooze fest.... Football or Futball... both are better.

  • Vladhagen Salt Lake City, UT
    July 3, 2014 9:13 a.m.

    This is like arguing that LeBron would make a great gymnast because he is so strong and has a great vertical leap. Let's remember this was the guy who cramped in heat. Soccer players played in similar conditions for 90+ minutes during the World Cup. Hot and humid, lots of running.

    The glorious thing about soccer is that it does not require you to be 6'9" to succeed, nor does is require the strength of a small rhino. Normal people with good fitness can succeed in soccer. In fact, most of the best players are or normal height and speed.

  • Uncle Rico Sandy, UT
    July 3, 2014 9:07 a.m.

    I think US Soccer is beginning to pick up. I've enjoyed watching all of the US games.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 3, 2014 8:54 a.m.

    My wife and I have often debated which sport has the most "fit" athletes. In the end we both agree it's soccer.

    -Baseball (Not a lot of running. You can play baseball sufficiently with a beer gut)

    -Basketball (short sprints and amazing skills, but on a small court with lots of stops in the action. They couldn't keep up the pace in a non-stop game like soccer)

    -Football (VERY strong, but they couldn't run that long. Other teams would be running circles around them).

    -Tennis (comes in a VERY close second in the endurance aspect)

    -Swimmers came in #3. They are very fit, but built to deliver in short bursts (not 90 minutes with only 1 break)

    -Track. Very fit, but not a lot of skill required. Putting one foot in front of the other basically, and training your muscles so they can do it real fast. But no turns, stops, defense, working as a team to keep possession, being quick enough to score on a whole team of defenders trying to stop you, etc...

    -Golf (no running. You can play that while you drink beer. Is it really a sport?)

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    July 3, 2014 8:47 a.m.

    Ugh...I hate it when people who don't play, coach, or understand soccer write articles about soccer.

    For the umpteenth time: You don't need freakish athletes to have a good soccer team/player. American sports writers and fans say stuff like this because they follow "stupid" sports where it does simply come down to who has the most freakish athletes. Football is basically a track meet - find the fastest guys you can and teach them to catch. Basketball is about finding the tallest guys you can who can still move their feet. Soccer is a much more nuanced game and requires a different combination of speed, strength, size, and smarts.

    FYI, soccer does have a LeBron. He's tall, strong, and athletic. His name's Peter Crouch, and he's a terrible soccer player.

    Messi: Best player in the world, not an elite athlete in any sense of the word.
    Ronaldo: Other best player in the world. Has some speed, but Richard Sherman would still toast him.
    Ibrahimovic: Some size (6' 5"), but below average compared to NFL quarterbacks.

    The U.S.'s problems at the World Cup come down to soccer skill, not athleticism.

  • BryceDeMann Murray, UT
    July 3, 2014 6:25 a.m.

    First off, uncle rico is way more than just soccer clueless. It is a combo of athletic ability and technical skills that makes the best players. the same things that put jordan ahead of others on the court over other elite athletes. Extreme technique and the ability to combine with 10 others in a common plan and movement can overcome better athletes. Iniesta, xavi , messi are far from the athlete type robinson is listing here. But imagining the two peaks combined is still a fun idea. Everyone assumes that the idea is just throw athletes on the field. Obviously they would need training and skill development from the youth level on up as well.

  • UT Brit London, England
    July 3, 2014 4:29 a.m.

    "lacks the intensity and strategy that other sports have"

    Ha, only an American could say this. No strategy? You have no understanding of the game.

    soccer coach

    "Lebron James would be an unstoppable beast on the soccer field."

    No he wouldnt, too tall, too heavy. Compare James to say Messi (considered by many to be the best player in the world at the moment). Messi is short, meaning a low centre of gravity and light. Maradonna (considered by many to be the best player ever) is the same deal. You could argue James might make an average goalie, but thats about it.

    Football (soccer) is the great leveller. Countries such as Uruguay (pop. 2 million) can consistently produce good teams. Saying you have some great athletes does not translate into an automatic winning team. Look at the England team, every single one of them play in the best football league in the world and we got knocked out first round.

  • Sore loser tampa, fl
    July 3, 2014 2:35 a.m.

    Obviously soccer is all about footwork and balance and also tactics and strategies and speed and stamina. Messi is the epitome of all those qualities. A good transition to soccer would be a basketball guard or a football defensive back or wide receiver/running back. But really it's the quality of the competition that trumps athleticism. The Europeans play a higher skilled level of possession passing based play that is faster than the MLS so the MLS needs to boost the fitness level of its players to play at the faster level.

  • eagle Provo, UT
    July 3, 2014 12:41 a.m.

    The problem with many of our sports including baseball, soccer, and volleyball as examples, is that becoming accomplished in these sports does require a lot of money. Therefore, we shrink the potential base to actually attract all the best athletes. Basketball is still accessible to the poor and most often the only sport played on the sandlot or playground level. (Have you actually seen anyone playing sandlot baseball lately?) But with AAU and such, it is also becoming more and more expensive. Football is the most accessible as the way it is structured still can attract athletes from across the spectrum. But when we make any sport cost prohibitive, and thus only able to attract athletes generally from the rich, we cut down the probability of finding the LeBron James of soccer.

  • JoeBA Pleasant Grove, ut
    July 2, 2014 9:59 p.m.

    I had a big long post about how silly this idea of all of our superstars being better than their superstars is, but this ESPN article from the last World Cup does it better:

    google "Why Lebron wouldn't save US soccer"

  • soccer coach Taylorsville, UT
    July 2, 2014 9:29 p.m.

    I agree with the article. Lebron James would be an unstoppable beast on the soccer field. The challenge with USA soccer is the feeding system called US Youth Soccer. Why do you think Klinsman went after all of those American kids who have been trained outside of the U.S.A.? If we want US soccer to improve we must clean up US Youth Soccer and their ODP Program. It is way to political and cost way too much money for any but middle to upper class children. Fix the pipeline, then we can win games at the World Cup.

  • gojazz8899 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 2, 2014 9:28 p.m.

    I don't understand this misconception that getting better athletes will suddenly make the US team on par with the other greats. Look at the current best player in the world, Leonel Messi. He would not be considered an elite athlete by our standards. What he lacks in size and top end speed, he makes up for with elite technique, vision, touch and passing. What the US needs it better player development. It was our athleticism that kept us in the Belgium game, making numerous last ditch efforts to save goals. What we lacked was the movement and passing that would have allowed us to possess the ball for long enough to generate an attack.

  • Sore loser tampa, fl
    July 2, 2014 9:12 p.m.

    I hate to say it but the US team had their chance except for a couple of punk MLS mistakes at the end. Wondo had Dempsey with a clear shot to his left in the last minute, but his eyes were way too big and clanked it out from 5 yards. Then there is Matt Bessler who tripped and fell overcommitting on defense in the open field leaving the Belgian wing with an open field to the goal in extra time. Then he ran his self all the way to the goal and actually got in the way of his own defender to give the other Dutch dude a free shot at the goal that he scored to make 1-0. It was like Bessler was actually playing for Belgium. Maybe it was heat exhaustion.
    Having said that, America did a great job at competing considering. Until there is more money in the MLS though, the best athletes will stick with the standard sports because after all it is a profession.

    July 2, 2014 8:53 p.m.

    Uncle Rico must be soccer clueless. There are ten players from the MLS on the US squad and here is the list of those playing on other teams.

    Australia: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls)

    Costa Rica: Giancarlo Gonzalez (Columbus Crew), Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew), Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls).

    Honduras: Jerry Bengtson (New England Revolution), Victor Bernardez (San Jose Earthquakes), Marvin Chavez (Chivas USA), Oscar Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo).

    Iran: Steven Beitashour (Vancouver Whitecaps).

    Spain: David Villa (New York City FC)

    Costa Rica is in the final eight. The United States will just keep getting better.

    Since Spain did not even make it into the final sixteen, along with Italy and England that must mean their players come from similar AAA level soccer leagues from around the world.

    Let's celebrate the progress of soccer in the United States without tearing down a great accomplishment.

  • Uncle Rico Provo, UT
    July 2, 2014 8:07 p.m.

    Kids want to play real sports where they can use their hands and involves strategy (not just kicking the ball back and forth to teammates trying to run the clock out so you tie). (Frequent flopping and occasional biting)

    Americans love to watch their team win or lose (not tie). They also love to be able to use their hands. Soccer has participation trophies and orange slices, but lacks the intensity and strategy that other sports have.

  • Uncle Rico Provo, UT
    July 2, 2014 8:07 p.m.

    People keep lying to themselves saying the US will be/is close to being the best in the world at soccer. This is not true at all. 4 World Cup games, and only 1 win. Over 200 consecutive minutes without a goal.
    US was close in the games because they have a great goalkeeper (he can use his hands). He broke the single game saves record in a World Cup.
    US was never close to winning, they cannot score. Look at the shots on goal difference.

    People can enjoy MLS, but it is less than the equivalent to the SL Bees. MLS continues play even during the World Cup, why? Because no one in the MLS is good enough to be on their country's World Cup team.