Let’s face it: soccer isn't really our sport. The U.S. National Men's Soccer Team has always had trouble competing at the world level, and its shaky performance in September’s FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifying rounds for a slot at Rio de Janeiro has been no different.
It makes sense that in our NFL and MLB centric nation, professional soccer has taken a long, long time to develop—especially when we're pitted against some European, African and South American countries where soccer’s all what the locals live for.
But we’re getting there.
In a 1-0 win against Jamaica on September 11th, the U.S. National Team looked considerably sharper than it has in the past. Though it had trouble finishing goals (what else is new?), Team USA stuck it out and now, it's just two victories away from advancing to the next stage of World Cup qualifiers. Because we’re still technically subpar, the team has only one real weapon that could see it go all the way. Fitness.
There’s no faking it. These guys are insane athletes with hardly an ounce of body fat. According to U.S. Men’s National Team Fitness Coach Masa Sakihana, players run for more than seven miles per game, burn more than 5,000 calories, and train for 90-120 minutes on the field in just under a dozen sessions per week. Coaches design lifting programs that focus on core strength, stability, flexibility and mobility. So when players look gassed in the last 15 minutes of a game, even the fan in the last row notices.
Here are America’s 10 fittest soccer players. If these guys stay fit, who knows what we could bring to the table in 2014?