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The Salt: RSL, but as Pokemon

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Shonan Bellmare v Vissel Kobe - J.League J1 Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

In a world where soccer isn’t played by human beings but by adorable, bizarre creatures you stash in a sphere ...

I don’t know how movie trailers really continue, so let’s just jump headlong into this. RSL players as Pokemon.

I’m sorry to have kept you waiting so long.

We’re going to start building our Pokedex today with RSL’s preferred starting XI. I recognize some of this might be quite wrong. You’re welcome to correct me, but you’re probably wrong, too.

Being right, though, is hardly the point of this exercise.

What’s the point, you ask? Well, why don’t we find out?


Nick Rimando: Aerodactyl

If I get this one wrong, I’d probably have a riot on my hands. I thought about going with Persian, because of his cat-like reflexes. Or maybe I could have gone with Poliwrath, because he’s a hybrid that’s gone undervalued for a long time.

Instead, I’m going with Aerodactyl. Now, you’re probably thinking that this is largely because Nick Rimando is old. Now, he’s not that old, but he’s certainly getting up there in soccer terms. But here’s what the Pokedex says in Pokemon Red and Blue.

A ferocious, prehistoric POKéMON that goes for the enemy’s throat with its serrated saw-like fangs.

Yeah. That’s pretty cool.

Aaron Herrera: Psyduck

Why Psyduck, you ask? Well, Aaron Herrera is good, but he’s not done evolving. He’s also a little goofy sometimes. That’s probably his best attribute. Oh, and his defending. And attacking. And ... well, I guess he’s good at lots of stuff. Maybe Psyduck is too. Or maybe he’s just a duck.

Justen Glad: Kadabra

I tried to think of a Pokemon that was tall and skinny, but I couldn’t think of a good one. Instead, Glad is Kadabra. He’s interesting, but he’s not the finished product. He has a long career ahead of him. Once he’s an Alakazam, he’s going to be unreal.

Also, I don’t know if you’ve seen Glad’s spoon-bending trick, but I hear he’s even bested Uri Geller. So that’s something.

Nedum Onuoha: Tauros

I mean, really, how could I not? Onuoha charging at a player on the ball is enough to make me curl into the fetal position. I think that’s how you’re supposed to fend off a bull, right? Yeah, let’s go with that.

Donny Toia: Machoke

When we sent away our little Machop back in 2012, I think we all thought he wouldn’t amount to much. He proved us all wrong, and he’s come back much stronger. He’s not the best Pokemon out there, and he’ll probably never hit a final evolution, but this story of the prodigal son is quite a nice one. I’d like to think that Machamp is the dad, Machop is the son, and Machoke is the son returned home. Papa Machamp, if you will.

Kyle Beckerman: Onix

No, he’s not very fast, and he’s not the most effective against all types. You probably don’t want him facing a lot of grass and water types, even though it happens quite a lot. But man, this guy’s been here forever, he’s influential, and it’s hard for me to see life without him.

Everton Luiz: Electrode

This guy’s always on the brink of explosion, and when he does, it’s usually spectacular. He’s always playing on the edge, and he serves more of a purpose than you might have normally expected.

Jefferson Savarino: Scyther

When we signed Savarino, he was definitely a young Scyther, but he was showing signs of greatness. Now, he’s scything everyone’s crops. You see what I did there? It’s a pun about ... oh, okay. Yeah.

Anyway, Savarino’s faaantastic and we’re going to lose him one day and I’m going to be extremely heartbroken.

Damir Kreilach: Dragonite

I bet you thought I was going to go Hitmonlee or Hitmonchan here, huh? Well, I’m not. The martial arts connection is A) tenuous, B) overplayed, and C) not nearly as fun as other options.

Instead, I’m going with Dragonite. It’s cute. It looks super friendly. It’s even waving in its official portrait. You know you wish you were friends with it. But when it comes up against you in battle, you’re gone. And that’s sort of like playing against Damir Kreilach. He’s probably the best player we have.

Albert Rusnak: Pikachu

Everyone loves Albert Rusnak. They also love Pikachu. This is not surprising. Rusnak is good. But is he quite as good as he’s made out to be? He’s certainly not a legendary creature, honestly. But he’s quite good, and he’s little and cute. For that, he gets plenty of attention. He’s not even a Raichu yet, but we all think he’s right on the edge of evolution.

Alternately, he’s Pidgeot. That hair. That hair...

Sam Johnson: Zapdos

You were so excited to catch your first Sam Johnson. He did so well for you in the early battles. Unfortunately, someone has knocked out your Zapdos, and it’ll be 6-to-8 weeks until he’s around.

But yeah. Fast, electric, cool? That’s Sam Johnson. And Zapdos. Both of them.


The bench

David Ochoa: Charmander

We’ve all got a sneaking suspicion that this guy could be really good; he just needs more playing time and experience.

Marcelo Silva: Omastar

I bet you forgot about Marcelo Silva at one time or another. He’s an Omastar. He’s good, but is he great? I dunno. Could he be great? Probably. But he’s kind of all over the place, and sometimes, he retreats into his shell and you can’t figure out why.

Luke Mulholland: Raticate

So, he’s not exactly the worst, but the best? He’s also not that. Not anymore, at least. Does Raticate call himself Handsome Raticate? I dunno, but that would be pretty funny.

Nick Besler: Parasect

So, Nick Besler’s surprisingly effective at times, but is he the first you go for? Not at all. But he’s a good one to have in your arsenal.

Joao Plata: Wigglytuff

This guy was little and cute. Then he grew up, and he was still little and cute. You’re thinking you probably don’t need Wigglytuff anymore, but you’ll never forget him before he evolved.

Sebastian Saucedo: Gengar

This guy just evolved from a Haunter. Now he’s a Gengar. He’s going to get under your skin, then he’ll disappear. Hell yeah.

Corey Baird: Sandslash

I don’t need to describe Baird as Sandslash. I’ll just include this Pokedex entry from Pokemon Sun.

Fleeing a volcanic eruption, it settled on a snowy mountain. As it races through the snowfields, it sends up a spray of snow.


OK, folks. If you’re good, I’ll finish this up with the rest of the team. If you’re naughty ... well, I don’t really have plans for that. Sorry.