By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published May 28, 2013 at 5:32 AM Photography: David Bernacchi

The immigrants who founded and settled Milwaukee were largely of German descent.

I have great respect and affection for those early settlers. After all, they built this city I love and you can still see a lot of their handiwork around.

Despite that, I don't particularly like Germans. As a matter of fact, I don't particularly like all of Germany. Maybe it has to do with the Jewish blood that flows through my heart. Maybe I am just not ready to forgive. Or it might have to do with a relative who crawled over 10 miles to escape a Nazi prison camp.

Even though I've got these feelings I found myself riveted to the Champions League soccer final between Bayern Munich and Prussia Dortmund. Bayern (which I think you call them instead of Munich, which is a real city besides being a soccer team) won, 2-1.

One thing that struck me was how much better these teams seemed than the American teams. And it's easy to tell why.

In America, our good athletes have so many choices. Football, basketball, hockey, baseball, golf, tennis, pairs figure skating, lumberjacking, track and field and several others. There's a lot of places a great athlete can ply his trade.

In Europe you are pretty much limited to soccer, cricket, lawn bowling and ice dancing. It's no wonder the overwhelming majority of great athletes rush to play soccer. Any sport that has a wicket must be way too civilized for the pitch. The best athletes in Europe play soccer.

I was so impressed with the play that it got me thinking, always a slightly dangerous thing.

Among our great athletes, who would be a great soccer player and make America a leading power in the game?

LeBron James has to be the first one to build our team around. Think about it. He's 6-feet, 8-inches and 250 pounds, has great endurance, is smart and fast. He might be the very best athlete on the planet. Just think what he could do if he'd start kicking with both feet when he was on a U-6 soccer team. The mind boggles.

Brian Urlacher would be on the time as one of our defensive specialists. He can run either to his left or right, has a nose for the ball and is tough as nails. Other players would hesitate to run into any area he's protecting. I know he's done with football, so maybe this one could really come true.

Brewers shortstop Jean Segura would make the team. He ranks third in stolen bases, so he can run. He's obviously smart, because it takes real brains to be a good base stealer. Plus, as a shortstop, he can obviously go in both directions.

I'd pick one of three point guards: Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving or Derrick Rose. They are all winners and have a winning attitude about them. They can do just about everything athletic. And, with their ability to direct things, just conjure up the image of one of these with the ball, in the middle of the field, making just the right pass.

Devin Hester would be a frightening soccer player. Can you imagine some defender frozen to a spot as Hester roars towards him at only slightly less than the speed of sounds? Whoever it is would be looking anxiously around for help from somebody.

Larry Sanders of the Bucks may well be the fastest center in the league. He's also an artist, so he has a certain calm about him. No panic here. And, as tall as he is, imagine him in front of the goal heading a corner kick right into the net.

Nyjer Morgan makes the team for a couple of reasons. First of all, he's very fast and can run in a lot of different directions as a centerfielder. He's also funny and can help keep the team loose. And finally, he's a little bit crazy and might distract opponents by doing something really weird.

We've got to put Floyd Mayweather on the team. He is tough and he's got a lot of endurance. Plus, if the team either threatens to move or if it really sucks, he can buy the franchise and make whatever changes he wants.

Finally, let's put Daniel Day-Lewis on the team. He's won two Oscars, most recently for playing Abraham Lincoln. He may be a curious choice but he's a great actor - and acting plays quite a role in soccer. Complaining about non-existent fouls. Flopping on the ground. Looking aggrieved. Day-Lewis' talents could be a wonderful advantage.

We also need a goalie, and Donald Driver is the choice. First of all, he has twice demonstrated his incredible courage. He showed no fear going over the middle while a safety or linebacker was aiming to take his head off. then he showed his bravery by slow dancing with a nearly naked, beautiful girl while his wife and kids stood by and watched. He's quick, got a nose for the ball, and has got great hands. What more do we need?

I know that's just nine guys, but I'd put my nine up against any 11-man team from Europe.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.