Sometimes I feel bad for Julius Caesar, getting killed like that on the Ides of March. The ides of March refer to somewhere around the middle of March, typically the 15th, which means that not only did Caesar die suddenly, but he died so suddenly he maybe didn’t even get to fill out his bracket in time for March Madness (history is unclear on this point).
The NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament is unlike any other major sporting event, a massive gauntlet designed more to provide entertainment value and wild upsets (too soon Villanova?) than to actually crown the best team as the champion. Emotions are high, brackets are busted, and an entire nation suddenly becomes way too invested in the lives of a handful of 18-22 year olds. It’s incredible.
As much as I love soccer, it doesn’t have anything quite like this, and so I’m bringing soccer to the Big Dance. In the spirit of madness, and in parody of those ridiculous “what if our best athletes played soccer” lists, I’m assembling a basketball squad of my favorite Major League Soccer players, past and present, to crash the dance, spike all the punch bowls with Mountain Dew, and turn the playlist to an endless loop of AC/DC’s “TNT”. Welcome to March, folks.
Sacha Kljestan PG:
One of the few players on this list who actually has the height to play his position, the former Anderlecht main is my choice to run the show. While Kljestan isn’t a dominant scorer, his goal numbers are ok. His true value lies in his ability to split defenses at the seams with his passing. I’m expecting averages of 11 points and a league leading 15 assists per game from the mustached menace.
Deandre Yedlin SG:
In the spirit of Bruce Bowen and Tony Allen, Yedlin is my lockdown defender at the two. While his speed and athleticism should provide some easy buckets in the open court, the Sounders product gets the nod due to his defensive chops. 8 points, 2 steals and a Lebron-esque chase down block per game should be about right.
Clint Dempsey SF:
Trash talk is one of the most underrated aspects of basketball, and something tells me that the second leading scorer in USMNT history would be able to hold his own in that aspect. The small forward is a versatile position and Dempsey possesses that quality in abundance. The team captain, I want averages of 17 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and a technical every few games.
Jozy Altidore PF:
Want to hear something crazy? The average mattress doubles its weight in an eight year period due to accumulated sweat and skin cells. Want to hear something else crazy? Altidore and Kljestan are within one inch and 5 pounds of each other. I fully expected Altidore to be at least a few inches taller and 100 pounds heavier than Kljestan is, largely due to the fact that Jozy can sometimes resemble a bowling ball as he plows through defenders and scores in bunches. The USMNT forward is our leading scorer, putting up 23 points a night to go with 9 boards.
Bill Hamid C:
Every team needs a good rim protector, and Bill Hamid will control the paint the same way he controls his box in MLS. While some knock his ability to stay healthy, no one can knock his athleticism and explosiveness. Enter the key at your own risk. 4 points, 11 rebounds, 7 blocks for the D.C. United academy product.