The first game of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will kick off in just 10 days. On November 21st, the United States Men’s National Team will play its first World Cup game since 2014. The national team head coach Gregg Berhalter made his team selection that he will take to Qatar earlier this week.
In some strange alternate universe, what if the Los Angeles Rams had a World Cup team? As a Chelsea fan, I thought this would be pretty fun exercise. Below are the starting 11 and five subs that I would select to represent in the Rams. We’ll be playing a 4-3-3 system to keep it simple. Just like with the US Men’s National Team not taking Ricardo Pepi, there were some difficult decisions to make with this team, too.
LW: Cooper Kupp
Every great soccer team needs an elite player on the wing. For Argentina this is Lionel Messi and Brazil has Neymar. For the Rams national team, it makes the most sense to select Cooper Kupp.
Kupp is the most creative player on the Rams offense. This season, Kupp has more receiving yards than the next three players on the Rams combined. Kupp has 813 yards receiving while Tyler Higbee, Allen Robinson, and Ben Skowronek have all combined for 791. When the Rams have needed a big play this season, they’ve gone to Kupp and I’ll be doing the same.
ST: Matt Gay
Matt Gay may not be the best athlete, but he’s the Rams’ kicker for a reason. Not to mention he actually played forward at Utah Valley in college. He scored seven goals for the Wolverines in 2014 to go along with four assists. With the best leg on the team and soccer experience, Gay is my world class striker.
RW: Van Jefferson
While Cooper Kupp gives us some creativity on the left side, Van Jefferson adds some speed on the other. I need a Raphinha or Marcus Rashford to pair with Kupp and that’s Jefferson.
Every attack needs that player that’s going to be able to stretch the defense and open up some space for the midfield. This is exactly what Jefferson will be able to do. Last season against the Arizona Cardinals, Jefferson hit speeds of up to 21.05 mph. That’s exactly the type of player I need in this spot.
CM: Bobby Wagner
The midfield is arguably the most important position. Not everybody can be a N’Golo Kante. However, with Bobby Wagner, I get a box-to-box midfielder who is a threat all over the pitch. He may not be in his prime anymore, but this is still a high quality player that I can rely on to control the midfield.
CM: Jacob Harris
While Wagner gives me someone who can cover box-to-box, I still need a strong physical presence to help control the middle of the pitch. Jacob Harris does exactly that. While he’s still a raw talent, there’s no denying his athleticism. This is someone that can get in the box and score on a header, but also dominate with his speed and overall athleticism.
Harris is 6’5, but I see him playing a similar roll as Paul Pogba of France. He’s going to give me a powerful and skillful player in the midfield who’s hard-working and just a physically strong player.
CDM: Nick Scott
As central defensive mid, I need a player who’s going to be able to get interceptions, and isn’t afraid to throw his weight around to win the ball. I can’t think anybody better for the task than Scott. There’s not a single play that displays this better than Scott’s hit on Deebo Samuel in the NFC Championship game.
Man… that’s a huge hit by Nick Scott on Deebo Samuel pic.twitter.com/FcXXjS3Ede— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) January 31, 2022
LB: Taylor Rapp
On the wing in defense is going to be my biggest weakness. There’s no denying Rapp’s overall athletic, but he’ll likely get lost in coverage on the backend every now and then. Hopefully it doesn’t end up being the downfall of the squad. Still, he has really good agility and short-area quickness which will help defending along out the outside.
CB: Aaron Donald
Aaron Donald is the best defender in the NFL for a reason. He’s physically dominant, he’s quick, and he brings an attitude with him on the field. That’s exactly what I want in the box and in the middle of my defense. Donald has a good vertical, meaning he’s going to be able to win balls in the air, but he’s also just a much-need physical presence. Donald is my Thiago Silva.
CB: Leonard Floyd
Floyd is another physical presence for the middle of the defense. Floyd is a good tackler and he’s always in a good position. He’s an aggressive physically strong player. He’ll give me exactly what Kalidou Koulibaly gives Senegal. He may not be the world’s best defender, but you can do a lot worse.
RB: Jordan Fuller
It doesn’t get much better for me on the right side. Fuller is a smart player which helps, but he has physical limitations in his game. There will be a lot of pressure on the central defenders and midfield to pick up some slack. I just need Fuller to be good enough
GK: Jalen Ramsey
Jalen Ramsey is exactly what you look for in a world-class goal keeper. He’s got long arms, a physical presence, he has an elite vertical, and most importantly, he has a confident energy about him. Ramsey might give up a goal, but he’s going to put it behind him and move on to the next play.
Because of his athleticism, he’s also going to make some incredible saves that will keep us in games. Ramsey won’t be afraid to tell his defenders when they’re in the wrong spot or made a mistake. There’s nobody else that I’d prefer in goal.
Subs: TuTu Atwell, Matthew Stafford, Allen Robinson, Ernest Jones, Robert Rochell
TuTu Atwell is going to my Timo Werner. He can play on the wing to stretch out the defense. Matthew Stafford once played soccer on the same high school team as Clayton Kershaw which has to mean something.
Robinson will be a good sub for Kupp if needed while Ernest Jones can be another option in the midfield. Lastly, Rochell brings long arms which gives me an alternative at keeper if needed.