In case you weren’t aware, the 2018 FIFA World Cup has started. The national teams of 32 countries are in Russia to take part in the tournament, but the US is not one of them. If you’re a fan of the USMNT now left without a rooting interest, here’s a handy guide you can use to pick one if you want.
Presenting: The Yankees as 2018 World Cup teams.
Argentina is CC Sabathia
Can still be good and put in performances in big moments. However, they’re both closer to the end of a historic run than the middle or beginning.
Australia is Kyle Highashioka
They’re just there making up the numbers in the World Cup/40-man roster, and probably won’t end up amounting to much this year.
Belgium is Clint Frazier
They both have the raw materials to be good, but haven’t proven it for an extended run at the highest level yet. However, if they ever do, both Frazier and Belgium have a chance at greatness.
Brazil is Giancarlo Stanton
A history of being great, but Stanton has slumped at points this season, and Brazil’s last World Cup ended in a 7-1 loss. However, if/when they turn it on, look out.
Colombia is Miguel Andujar
Obviously a good team, but probably not quite good enough to actually win the World Cup. Andujar is a good player, but almost no matter what he does, he’s still going to be overshadowed in the lineup.
Costa Rica is Ronald Torreyes
At the 2014 World Cup, Costa Rica made the quarterfinals out of nowhere. No one seems to think they can repeat that this time. Torreyes probably wouldn’t keep up his > .300 batting average if he played more, but they’re both still a nice story.
Croatia is Sonny Gray
Croatia has a bunch of really good players. However, a scandal involving some of them and the Croatian soccer federation is overshadowing the team’s involvement in the World Cup. Not entirely fair to Gray, as he has only struggled on the field and hasn’t committed any crimes. That being said, it wouldn’t be shocking if either of them ended up doing well.
Denmark is Brandon Drury
They’re both a bit forgettable, but they shouldn’t exactly be written off because of that alone.
England is Jacoby Ellsbury
It doesn’t matter if your expectations of them are actually low, England and Ellsbury will probably still fall short of them anyway.
Egypt is Masahiro Tanaka
While, he hasn’t been lights out this season, Tanaka is pretty good. Egypt’s star Mo Salah is really good. They’re both hurt right now, and both injuries happened in an infuriating manner for fans of both teams.
France is Gleyber Torres
Just a giant ball of talent with extreme talent.
Germany is Aaron Judge
Near the end of the 90s/beginning of the 2000s, it was clear Germany had lost a step. The German soccer federation then quietly started retooling the national team structure and the way young players are developed. Starting in the 2006 World Cup, they have made the semifinals of every major tournament they have played in, a streak of six tournaments. Whether it was injury or whatever, Judge definitely slumped pretty hard last season. Well, he’s fixed the problem and is pretty dang good again.
Iceland is Didi Gregorius
Eminently lovable. Maybe they’re not actually as good as their high points (Iceland’s Euro 2016 quarterfinal run and Didi’s April), but definitely not anyone you can look past.
Iran is Dellin Betances
Good Dellin is completely unhittable, and Iran allowed just five goals in 18 games in qualifying for the World Cup.
Japan is Jordan Montgomery
Look, this was the last one I figured out, they’re not all going to be accurate.
Mexico is Chasen Shreve
The Mexican team is far more relevant in the international game than Shreve is in baseball. However, they get matched up together because in all four seasons in Shreve’s career, he’s started off the first couple weeks of the season pretty well. He has yet to keep it up for a full year. Mexico have advanced out of the group stage into the Round of 16 in every World Cup since 1994. They’ve then lost their Round of 16 match every time.
Morocco is Neil Walker
Did you know Morocco is in the 2018 World Cup? Did you know Neil Walker is still on the 25-man roster?
Nigeria is Domingo German
Both German and Nigeria have talent, but probably not enough in 2018 to have a starring role. However, Nigeria have some intriguing young players, and German is one himself.
Panama is Tyler Austin
Panama is the team that finished just ahead of the US, knocking them out of World Cup contention. Austin was kept up instead of Torreyes, who is a beloved player for a lot of people. Both probably prevent something from happening that a lot of people reading this website wouldn’t have been happy about.
Peru is Billy McKinney
When McKinney first got called up, most Yankees fans were intrigued and a bit excited. Same thing when Peru qualified for the World Cup for the first time in decades. McKinney got hurt almost immediately, and Peru’s captain, Paolo Guerrero, was initially suspended for the World Cup due to a doping offense. However, the ban was later overturned, and McKinney will probably get another shot eventually, so not all is lost.
Poland is Greg Bird
Bird is a good hitter and showed an incredible ability at getting on base in the minor leagues. Robert Lewandowski is a world-class striker. Neither have gotten a chance to show that in the majors/international level. Bird due to injuries, Lewandowski because Poland isn’t as good as the various professional teams he’s played for.
Portugal is Gary Sanchez
Both have a recent history of success, and are perfectly capable of repeating it. I just have no idea what to do with either one right now.
Russia is Luis Cessa
In theory, they could be good, but there’s not really any evidence to prove that’s the case.
Saudi Arabia is Giovanny Gallegos
They had a great couple years in the lead up to get them to this level, but it’s not going to go well when they take the field.
Senegal is Jonathan Loaisiga
I’m intrigued by them, but I’ll fully admit I don’t know as much about either as I probably should.
Serbia is David Robertson
Serbia has some good young players, and are close to the start of a potentially good era, while Robertson seems nearer to the end. Serbia are in a tough group, and that’s something to be a little concerned about, as was Robertson’s bad run earlier this season.
South Korea is Tyler Wade
We’ve seen them do good things before, but both come with an asterisk. Wade because it was mostly in spring training, and he hasn’t really been good in regular season major league games. South Korea because it’s been a couple years since they’ve done anything of note. It’s hard to really expect much of either in 2018.
Spain is Luis Severino
The Brazils, Germanys, and Frances are all getting more buzz heading into this tournament than Spain. However, Spain is right there with them. Judge and other players are at a fame level higher than where Severino is at, but he’s just as good of a baseball player, if not better.
Sweden is Brett Gardner
Definitely not the best they’ve ever been, but still good enough to have an impact in 2018.
Switzerland is Aaron Hicks
Both are perfectly competent and sometimes pretty good. Also not really a big time threat and one of the least memorable good teams/players in the World Cup/Yankees’ lineup.
Tunisia is AJ Cole
Like Tunisia’s national team, AJ Cole exists.
Uruguay is Aroldis Chapman
Getting hit with a Chapman fastball would probably hurt. As would getting bit by Luis Suarez.