Weekly rankings: Which other Atlanta athletes would make great soccer players?

This date in Braves history: Deion Sanders traded

This date in Braves history: Deion Sanders traded

Editor’s note: In a new weekly feature, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Doug Roberson will take a question from the readers asking him to rank whatever they want ranked, using his experience from 10 years covering the franchise.

Today’s ranking: Which other Atlanta athletes would make great soccer players?

After you read, share your rankings, or your opinions on Roberson’s rankings to droberson@ajc.com, and he’ll read some of them on the next Southern Fried Soccer podcast.

Part 1: Best moves made by Atlanta United’s front office.


Former Hawks center Dwight Howard.   Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

icon to expand image

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Goalkeeper: Dwight Howard. The Atlanta native, soccer aficionado and former Hawks player is 6-foot-10, with a wingspan of a B-52. Try getting a shot past him. If you’re curious, the tallest goalkeeper in soccer history is Dane Simon Bloch Jorgensen, who is 6-11.

Honorable mentions:

Dikembe Mutombo. Would be awesome if the former Hawks player wagged his finger every time he made a save.

Daniel Bouchard and Johan Hedberg. The former Flames and Thrashers goalkeepers already know how to stop shots.


Centerback: Jessie Tuggle. The man made more than 1,800 tackles for the Falcons. He can play defense.

Centerback: Calvin Johnson. He became a legend as a wide receiver at Georgia Tech and for the Lions, but in this role he would be tasked with winning every aerial battle. Seems pretty straightforward.

Honorable mention: Dominique Wilkins. Who better to win those aerial duals?

Centerback: Brian Jordan. The former Brave and Falcon would be more than athletic enough to step in to throw some muscle around.


Midfielder: Bobby Jones. Think of Jones, one of the greatest golfers in history, as the precision passer, able to put just the right amount of touch on every pass.

Midfielder: Harrison Butker. Think of Butker, former standout kicker at Georgia Tech and now with the Chiefs, hitting long passes into spaces behind the defenses.

Honorable mentions: Morten Andersen, Wil Lutz, Kevin Butler and Mick Luckhurst, all fantastic NFL kickers who can put the ball where they want.

Midfielder: Walt Frazier. While Jones and Butker are pinging passes, Frazier, who was born in Atlanta, is locking down the other team’s best midfielder, just as he used to do with the Knicks.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. The Falcons won 10-7. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP


Wingback: Julio Jones. The former Falcons wide receiver is so big, so fast and so strong, he’d be like Alphonso Davies-plus.

Wingback: Deion Sanders. The former Falcons cornerback and Braves outfielder is so big, so fast and so strong, he’d be like Alphonso Davies plus Julio Jones. Imagine he and Jones running behind lines to catch up to passes from Butker.

Honorable mentions: The late, great Demaryius Thomas and the still-living Lindsay Scott (you can hear Mike Conti screaming “Run Lindsay” after ever goal, and Andre Rison, for some of the same reasons as above, as well as former Braves outfielders Marquis Grissom and Kenny Lofton, and U.S. track standouts Gwen Torrence and Ralph Boston. Also former Braves shortstop Rafael Belliard and outfielder Otis Nixon because they covered a lot of ground.

Thrashers' captain Ilya Kovalchuk enters the ice during team introductions in the Thrashers' season opener against Tampa Bay Lightning at Philips Arena.

Credit: Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

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Credit: Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com


Striker: Ilya Kovalchuk. He scored 328 goals for Thrashers. I think he could score a few more as a soccer player.

Honorable mention. Ronald Acuña Jr. because it seems like he could do pretty much anything he decides he wants to be good at.

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Atlanta United’s 2024 schedule

Feb. 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0

March 9 Atlanta United 4, New England 1

March 17 vs. Orlando, 7 p.m., FS1

March 23 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

March 31 vs. Chicago, 3:30 p.m., FOX

April 6 at NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.

April 14 vs. Philadelphia, 2:30 p.m., FOX

April 20 vs. Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

April 27 at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.

May 4 vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.

May 11 vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

May 15 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

May 18 at Nashville, 1:30 p.m.

May 25 vs. LAFC, 7:30 p.m.

May 29 at Miami, 7:30 p.m.

June 2 vs Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FOX

June 15 vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m.

June 19 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

June 22 at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m.

June 29 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

July 3 at New England, 7:30 p.m.

July 6 at Real Salt Lake, 9:30 p.m.

July 13 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

July 17 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.

July 20 vs. Columbus, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 10:30 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 14 vs. Nashville, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 18 vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 5 vs. Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Orlando, 6 p.m.