Earlier this week St Louis’ kicker Greg Zuerlein published his Rams World Cup team – with some interesting choices. Lord knows I love my Rams, but being a Brit I also love my football – sorry, soccer. Here’s an alternative starting eleven.
GK – Kenny Britt: At 6’ 3”, Britt certainly has the height to be a ‘keeper. Just like legendary Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, Britt seems to have no problems getting in the faces of team-mates and challenging them. Usefully, Britt also seems to be able to catch everything. Everything.
RB – Janoris Jenkins: Having run 4.46 in the 40 yard dash at his combine, Jenkins has the speed necessary to fill the right back position. Thinking back to THAT hit against Washington’s Fred Davis, Jenkins also has the power to get stuck into opponents where necessary. A great combination for a right back.
CB (Capt.) – James Laurinaitis: Playing at the heart of the defense for the Rams, it makes perfect sense for Laurinaitis to fit right in here. With an impressive 634 total career tackles, he typifies the strong, vocal presence required to play centre back. His status as a natural leader in the squad also earns Laurinaitis the captain’s armband.
CB – Michael Brockers: A strong physical defender, with pace and athleticism to go with it. The very best centre backs remain composed and make crucial tackles when attackers run at them towards goal. As a quality defender against the run, Brockers is a smart choice.
LB – Lamarcus Joyner: A really gritty, tenacious defender, Joyner would fit in perfectly at left back. With proven flexibility having played cornerback and safety, Joyner possesses the versatility to drop back into coverage to make tackles or pile forward with pressure as the situation calls for it.
RM – Tavon Austin: With his blistering pace terrifying anyone he runs at, it is a no-brainer to put Austin on the wing. Playing on the outside means he is much less likely to be contesting those aerial battles in the box, therefore his small 5’ 8” frame is not too much of an issue.
CM – Alec Ogletree: I was initially tempted to put Ogletree in as the second centre-back purely on tackling ability. His fumble recovery touchdown against Denver last year shows an instinct for the occasional opportunistic attack that, for this roster, pushes him forward into the rear of the midfield.
CM – Jared Cook: As the Rams leading receiver in 2013 with 671 yards, but with questionable blocking ability, it makes sense to put Cook in as the more attacking centre midfielder. Playing here will allow him to push forward more, without risking being embarrassed with poor tackling.
LM – Austin Pettis: I have dropped Pettis back from the striker position as he is not the immediate first choice in terms of attacking threats, but is certainly dangerous going at opponents in the right situation. Being used to outside-in crossing routes, being on the wing is the ideal position for Pettis.
ST – Robert Quinn: With his explosive ability to get around or through opponents to get to his target, Quinn has huge potential as a striker. In the English Premier League, somewhere near 20 goals is something of a benchmark for a great season. Quinn’s 19 sacks last year for the Rams is a comparable stat.
ST – Brian Quick: At 6’4” and with a 34” vertical jump at his scouting combine, Quick should be a real threat in the box. His frame makes him an ideal target man, with the physical presence to hold off defenders for his strike partner or himself. Neatly mirroring his misuse under Brian Schottenheimer, he will achieve far more if given the opportunity to use his physical advantages with good quality, deep passes in his direction.