What Would a Tennessee Titans Soccer Club Look Like?

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 11: DeMarco Murray /

What would the roster look like if the Tennessee Titans decided to switch from being a football team to a soccer club? I’ve got the answer.

Soccer has become pretty rampant in the U.S. recently. World Cup qualifying matches, clubs like FC Cincinnati and Miami FC making pushes to join the MLS as expansion teams, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup has put game attendance and national attention to the sport perhaps at an all-time high.

I’m spending this week in Los Angeles, where I had the chance to watch my Galaxy suffer utter destruction at the hands of Real Salt Lake. Even back home in Nashville, Tennesseans await the United States Mens National Team to play a Gold Cup match at Nissan Stadium. My point: soccer is everywhere these days in America, and Music City is no exception. In fact, Nashville is getting its own professional USL team in 2018.

All of this has prompted me to wonder what it would look like if the Tennessee Titans formed a soccer club out of players on the active roster. Here’s what I would see it looking like. (Note: This exercise uses a standard 4-4-3 formation.)

GOALKEEPER: Delanie Walker, TE

To be a quality goalkeeper, you need a few important traits. Great hands, size, quickness, and the ability to be a physical presence in the penalty area are all needed for success in goal. When you look at the Titans’ roster, perhaps nobody better displays all of these traits than Pro Bowl TE Delanie Walker.

Though Walker’s height isn’t all that impressive, his build gives him great size. He’s fast and showed numerous times this year, particularly when abusing linebackers on shake routes, that he’s nimble as well. Add in his ability to block defensive ends to the quality of an offensive lineman in the running game, and you have yourself a (somewhat, perhaps) prototypical GK.

OUTSIDE BACKS: Logan Ryan, CB & Kevin Byard, S

Outside defenders in the game of soccer, similar to defensemen in hockey, are most valuable when they can be quality two-way players. They need the speed and athleticism to carry the ball past midfield for their scorers, as well as the ability to read offensive attacks and make quick decisions. Defensive backs seem like the perfect candidates to fill that role, so the Titans’ two best DB’s, Logan Ryan and Kevin Byard, will go in that spot.

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Ryan has made a living out of playing close to the football for his entire career, and the same was true for Byard at MTSU. They both have a balance of speed, physicality, and the ability to read defenses. Should they be called upon to be defenders in a game of soccer, those skills could translate into success on the pitch.

CENTER BACKS: Avery Williamson, LB & Brian Orakpo, LB

Unlike outside backs, center backs rarely see any action offensively. Thus, their primary objective is to make well timed challenges to give their team possession and start a counter-attack. The two best tacklers on the Titans’ roster are linebackers Avery Williamson and Brian Orakpo, both of whom would be physical, smart, and quick enough to play center back.

In 2016, Williamson led the Titans in tackles for the second straight year. Though he has yet to prove that he has ability to cover backs and tight ends, he wouldn’t need to be running around quite that much as a CB. Orakpo led the Titans in sacks for the second year in a row last season. Regardless of whether or not he could aptly play the position, how awesome would Orakpo’s famous sack celebration be on a pitch?

CENTER MIDFIELD: Ryan Succop, K & Brett Kern, P

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for since you began reading this piece: the Titans’ special teamers have made their way onto the pitch! Since center midfielders don’t have to be quite as athletic as their counterparts on the wings, they can have more of a focus on being a skill player. This is the position that most frequently takes longer shot attempts, so who better to fill that position than the two best kickers on the roster?

In addition to creating scoring chances both with shots outside the penalty area and well aimed passes, Succop and Kern would give the team value as set-piece takers. If Ryan Succop can kick a brick over a crossbar and between uprights 53 yards away in zero degree weather, he certainly can score on a free kick from 33 yards out.

ATTACKING WINGERS: Adoree’ Jackson, CB & Khalfani Muhammad, RB

The two most important traits for wingers are, often, speed and quick feet. They must be able to outrun a defense (while staying onside, of course) and keep possession while doing so. Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson and running back Khalfani Muhammed are undoubtedly the fastest players on the Titans’ roster, so they will slide in as wingers.

As the likely candidates to be the Titans’ kickoff and punt returners in 2017, Jackson and Muhammed both have top end speed, nimble feet, and the ability to read a special teams coverage unit. Those traits would seemingly translate very well as wingers, and give the team a great chance to move the ball rapidly.

FORWARDS: DeMarco Murray, RB & Marcus Mariota, QB

On any soccer club, your goal scorers are your golden boys. Some of the most recognizable names in American soccer today, like Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, are forwards. They’re fast. They finish. They’re decisive. To complete TTFC (Tennessee Titans Football Club), the Titans’ two best and most talented offensive players, quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back DeMarco Murray, will play forward.

Both have great speed, size, and star power. They’re also both known for how they use their feet: Mariota to move outside of the pocket and Murray to nimbly weave through stacked boxes. They’re big time football players who are huge fan favorites, making them prime candidates to be forwards if the Titans morphed into a soccer club.