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The All-Seahawks World Cup Team
This is an exercise in entertainment - the lineup, views, and opinions expressed herein are those of the author
It may be difficult for us football fiends to fathom, but every four years an event rolls around that millions of people around the globe deem bigger than the Super Bowl.
That event? The FIFA World Cup.
Thirty-two different nations earned the right to play in this year's tournament for pride, country, and love of the game. The competition kicked off last Thursday in World Cup host country Brazil, but the United States' first action comes at 3 p.m. PT today against Ghana.
In support of our friends competing in red, white, and blue, we thought it would be fun to put together a "Starting 11" of Seahawks players in soccer positions where they could potentially prevail.
In Super Bowl XLVIII this past February, the world found out that defense still wins championships. So the Seahawks are taking that approach into World Cup 2014, with their "Starting 11" featuring a 5-3-2 formation (five defenders, three midfielders, and two forwards) under the direction of head coach Pete Carroll.
Below, take a look at the Seahawks' "Starting 11" for World Cup 2014:
1. Goalkeeper - Richard Sherman
At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, cornerback Richard Sherman measures up with some of the world's top keepers. His 32-inch wingspan, sure hands, and quick-twitch reaction to the ball make him the Seahawks' top candidate to defend the net. Sherman's 43-inch running vertical doesn't hurt either, an asset that would allow him to get a finger on a ball that's 11 feet and three inches off the ground - perfect for knocking away those high-angle, curling attempts on goal. Imagine how fantastic it would be to see Sherman wag his finger in Dikembe Mutombo-like fashion after swatting away a screaming strike from Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo. No one has intercepted more passes (20) or recorded more passes defensed (60) through the past three seasons than Sherman. Basically, it's very hard to get something by this guy. While operating alone in goal would keep Sherman's notorious trash-talk out of an opponent's earshot for most of the match, he would be able to provide invaluable direction and encouragement to the Seahawks' back line, a grouping that starts with a fellow member of the "Legion of Boom."
2. Defender - Kam Chancellor
The enforcer. A truly imposing physical specimen, strong safety Kam Chancellor's 6-foot-3, 232-pound frame coupled with his speed and hard-hitting mentality will make the opposing side think twice about maneuvering into the box. Acting as the last line of defense before Sherman in goal, Chancellor has a proven track record of taking on - and taking out - the game's top offensive players.
3. Defender - Bobby Wagner
With his quickness, instincts, and seemingly effortless ability to cover sideline-to-sideline, linebacker Bobby Wagner is tasked with marking and meeting opposing midfielders and strikers in the open field. He's led the Seahawks in tackles in each of the past two seasons, notching 120 take-downs last year and corralling 140 ball carriers his rookie year in 2012, making him a dangerous adversary for any oncoming assailant.
4. Defender - Brandon Mebane
As one of just three Seahawks (Mebane, Max Unger, Jon Ryan) remaining from before coach Pete Carroll took over in 2010, eighth-year defensive tackle Brandon Mebane brings a needed veteran leadership and savvy to the team's young back line. At 6-foot-1 and 311 pounds, Mebane is a space-eater in the team's World Cup defense, plugging holes with his deceptively quick movement to the ball. He's been known to swallow up attackers with his massive physique, resulting in one of the best belly dances since Shakira.
5. Defender - Malcolm Smith
Super Bowl XLVIII MVP linebacker Malcolm Smith always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He found himself there in this past season's NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers and then again two weeks later in the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos. A strong sense for correct positioning is a key component to the success of any futbol team's back line. The Seahawks will appreciate that aspect of Smith's game in World Cup 2014.
6. Defender - Steven Hauschka
Capable of playing long balls forward to the club's speedy midfielders and relentless forwards (which we'll get to below), kicker Steven Hauschka was an obvious add to the Seahawks' World Cup squad. "Hausch-money," as he's often referred to for his precise and reliable leg that converted an NFC-best 94.3 percent of his field goals this past season, would be the team's first choice to deliver free, goal, and corner kicks throughout the tournament.
7. Midfielder - Percy Harvin
Much like on the gridiron, you just give this man the ball in space and let him work. It's that simple when it comes to a player like wide receiver Percy Harvin, whose explosiveness is unmatched on the Seahawks' roster. His success on kickoff returns bodes well for the Seahawks' midfield in World Cup 2014, providing a coast-to-coast scoring threat for Seattle.
8. Midfielder - Earl Thomas
The embodiment of the Seahawks' mindset, Earl Thomas demonstrates great effort, enthusiasm, and plays with an unrivaled and infectious love of the game. The rangy free safety's ball skills allow him to roam freely up and down the sideline during World Cup 2014, reinforcing the defense and providing an extra spark to the offense when needed. Thomas' smart and physical play sets the tone for the Seattle side.
9. Midfielder - Russell Wilson
A dazzler of distribution, quarterback Russell Wilson would work to provide quality service to the Seahawks' tenacious forwards. He possesses the rare ability to create big plays when facing dire straits, a trait that shines brightest in the waning moments of a match. He was voted offensive captain by his teammates in 2013, which makes Wilson the clear-cut choice to don the captain's armband when his team takes the pitch.
10. Forward - Michael Bennett
Good things always seem to happen when defensive end Michael Bennett is around the ball. That was the case this past season for the Seahawks, when Bennett joined the team as a free agent and went on to lead the club in sacks (8.5). Seattle hopes he carries that good-things-always-happen-when-he's-around-the-ball quality to World Cup 2014, where his 6-foot-4, 274-pound high-motor and ever-active on-field attitude will be capable of holding the ball up from multiple defenders while giving time to bring his teammates into play. Plus, who wouldn't want to see those sexy hip gyrations after every score?
11. Forward - Marshawn Lynch
With little regard for would-be defenders - and at times, his own safety - running back Marshawn Lynch's untiring pursuit of the endzone makes him the team's primary goal scorer in World Cup 2014. His exceptional field vision allows him to find and accelerate through holes in the defense, and when the holes aren't there, Lynch makes them anyway. His legs never stop churning as he meets defenders head-on, often shedding them aside en route to pay dirt and those famed Skittles showers.
Coach - Pete Carroll
Carroll's "Always Compete" philosophy is on full display, as the fifth-year Seahawks head coach tries his hand at "Winning Forever" in a completely different sport. He's already just one of three coaches (Carroll, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer) to win a college national championship and a Super Bowl. Why not add the FIFA World Cup Trophy to the list?
Supporters - 12th Man
Fittingly enough, with each club marching their best 11 out for each match, the Seahawks' fan base should have no problem following their team to the big green. The 12th Man makes an easy transition to the world's game, where they'll once again prove to be the loudest supporters on the planet on the soccer world's biggest stage.