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What If The Democratic Presidential Primaries Were Decided By Soccer?

There are too many Democratic candidates for U.S. president. So why not pare down the field with soccer?

Anyone who has watched the first four nights of Democratic presidential primaries debates this summer can attest: There are too many candidates, too little time for real dialogue and too many old white dudes. 

But we here at The18 have an idea to fix all of this. Instead of deciding the Democratic presidential candidate based on boring things like debates and voting, the DNC’s nominee should be picked based on something we can all agree is great: soccer.

We have a feeling it would go something like this:

Democratic Presidential Primaries Based On Soccer

Picking Teams

With about two dozen Democratic presidential candidates in the field, it made sense to divide everyone into two teams. But no one seems to agree on how to split the teams up. Everyone did agree the match should be played on the West Coast, because who cares about appealing to Middle America when the weather is so damn nice in Southern California.

Michael Bennet suggested doing a random lottery to pick teams, like FIFA does for a World Cup or CNN dragged out ahead of the last round of debates. However, everyone fell asleep during his four-word sentence.

Instead, John Delaney poked his head out of a burrow and suggested an old-school pick ’em. Everyone ignored him, but when Bernie Sanders recommended the same thing, everyone agreed to it and pretended it was their idea all along. 

But who would be the captains? Obviously the two highest-polling candidates would make the most sense. But the Democrats wanted to be democratic, so two names were pulled out of a hat: Cory Booker and Joe Sestak. But because no one really knows who Sestak is, he was thrown out and replaced by the next name out of the hat, Amy Klobuchar.

Klobuchar was given first pick based on seniority and she immediately went with Beto O’Rourke. Beto looks like he’d be a great player based on his lithe frame, long gait and growing up in one of the few places in Texas that values soccer over American football. But as soon as Klobuchar passed him the ball to commemorate her pick, Beto was found out as having two left feet — and we’re talking David Beckham left feet, not Lionel Messi left feet. 

Booker, a former college football player at Stanford, knows a thing or two about building a sports team. Unfortunately, he knows nothing about building a soccer team as he wasted his first pick on a goalie, choosing Bill de Blasio because he’s 6-5. 

Klobuchar then filled out her team with Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper and Eric Swalwell. Bennet and Hickenlooper were nearly scratched from the lineup after a plague outbreak in Colorado, but they were deemed healthy enough to play. 

Booker finished out his team with Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Julián Castro, Tim Ryan, Andrew Yang, Steve Bullock, Tom Steyer and sleeper pick Marianne Williamson. 

Wayne Messam, Seth Moulton and Sestak were not picked nor were they ever heard from again (nor did we ever really hear from them to begin with).

The teams were set.


With the teams divided, it was the captains who were tasked with setting the lineups. Klobuchar asked USMNT coaching legend Jurgen Klinsmann for advice while Booker opted to ask Hope Solo for her suggestions, again overvaluing the goalkeeper position. 

Team Klobuchar

Klobuchar started by placing Biden in defense, because he’s been on the defensive since he announced his candidacy. He lined up alongside Bennet at center back to create the slowest CB pairing since Per Mertesacker and Gunnersaurus patrolled the back line at the Emirates. They were flanked by Swalwell on the right and Hickenlooper on the left, with Klobuchar hoping the Colorado duo’s chemistry would make up for a lack of pace. 

John Delaney was placed in goal because he’s used to taking shots to the face. Klobuchar put herself among the midfield three with Buttigieg and Gillibrand. 

Gabbard was the only one on the team who cared to play on the right, so she took the right-wing position. Beto lined up on the left wing while Inslee was placed at center forward.

Democratic Presidential Primaries

Team Booker

Booker placed de Blasio in goal, where everyone agreed he was most effective. But the New York City mayor didn’t really want to be pigeonholed in the position because he once met Michael Bradley, which de Blasio thought made him the most tactically astute politician in the field.

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Booker put himself at center back alongside Tim Ryan. Bullock lined up at right wingback while Tom Steyer played an even more aggressive left wingback position, though he was constantly arguing with the ref about who should be allowed to play. 

Aside from the defense, no one on Booker’s team really wanted to play on the right, which created a lopsided lineup. Sanders and Warren teamed up on the far-left side while Harris took the striker position, because she’s got years of experience putting things away as a prosecutor. 

Yang and Castro manned the midfield to give the team plenty of mobility while the mysterious Williamson donned the iconic No. 10 jersey and promised to bring a calm to the middle of the pitch. 

Democratic Presidential Primaries

First Half

Now that everyone was in place, the match could begin. 

Andrew Yang had the bright idea to let everyone start each half with one goal apiece. Initially the Democrats liked the idea, but when Yang called it the Freedom Dividend, they turned their noses up at it. When Kamala Harris brought up reparations, all the white folks got nervous, and Williamson and Buttigieg demanded Team Booker start with one goal. 

After an honorary coin toss by Hillary Clinton to decide who kicked off first — Booker called tails and lost — referee Michelle Obama took the field. Spectators wondered why Michelle didn’t just play in the game given that she’d probably win easily, but the competitors were just happy she kept her distance and gave them a chance. 

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Play kicked off with Gabbard hugging the right flank, as she did all match, turning her stylish Nikes white with chalk. Inslee knocked the ball back to Mayor Pete and the game was on. Buttigieg wanted to get everyone involved early and played the ball back to Klobuchar and then Biden, who was immediately closed down by Harris. Biden knocked the ball long to Beto, but Harris nicked Biden on his follow through, the start of a chippy match between the two.

With no one on Team Booker aside from Bullock bothering to defend the right flank, O’Rourke had the freedom of the park to attack. But all he seemed to want to do was stand on the bench and talk to the crowd. 

On the other side of the pitch, a fierce battle raged between Warren and Sanders against Gabbard and Biden. Warren and Sanders wanted to push everything forward while Biden and Gabbard refused to shake up the status quo too much.

The first real chance of the game fell to Inslee. Played in by Buttigieg, Inslee zipped past Tim Ryan and hit the corner with a well-place shot. However, the goal was called back for offside, the Washington governor too eager to get out in front of a pressing issue like climate change, which is really too depressing to think about. 

The most notable moment of the first half came when Team Booker was awarded a corner kick. Castro lobbed a cross into the box and Harris nudged an elbow into the back of Biden’s head. On the next corner kick, Gabbard landed a low blow on Harris in retaliation and was nearly tossed out, but Michelle Obama said when they go low, we go high and just showed Gabbard a Hallmark greeting card instead of a red card. Booker then insisted Harris and Gabbard “hug it out.”

As the halftime whistle blew, Team Booker led 1-0.


At halftime, Klobuchar ripped into her players for failing to score. She threw a binder at Bennet, who didn’t react until his nose was already bleeding. Hickenlooper tried to boost morale by passing out beers, because did he mention that he opened the first craft brewery in Denver yet?

In contrast to Klobuchar’s fire, Booker gave an inspiring speech to his players, even though he kept talking about scoring touchdowns for some reason. He then gave his teammates some Kool-Aid but didn’t tell anyone what flavor it was. Booker also tried to draw up a play where the tight end (his new term for center back) ran a fly route and scored a bicycle kick, but his buddy Neil deGrasse Tyson reminded him that physics would not allow such a large man to complete such a feat of acrobatics. 

Second Half

Whether it was the pep talk from Klobuchar or the beers from Hickenlooper, Team Klobuchar started the second half on fire. 

The pressure paid off with three quick-fire goals. First, Klobuchar ripped a free kick past de Blasio from 25 yards out after Booker clumsily brought down Buttigieg. Minutes later, Biden headed in a corner kick, though Yang became the first politician to flop, claiming he was shoved from behind by Gillibrand on the cross. Michelle Obama had none of it and let the goal stand.

Soon, Gabbard made it 3-1 when she glided past Steyer and went near post on de Blasio, and immediately complaints began to fly that Gabbard was being given illegal steroids by Russian conspirators. 

Amidst the celebrations of the third goal, Eric Swalwell chased a butterfly off the field and was never seen from again. Team Klobuchar was forced to play a man down for the rest of the match, because no one felt like offering a position to Messam, Moulton or Sestak, and we swear those are real Democratic candidates for president.

Things were looking down for Team Booker, perhaps hamstringed by an insistence to ignore the right side of the field. 

But with Booker still barking out orders like a damn college football coach, his team didn’t give up. Bernie Sanders successfully appealed for a penalty with his patented brand of yell-talking that even Michelle Obama couldn’t ignore, and Yang buried the ensuing spot kick. 

With renewed vigor, Castro went on a mazy run, magnificently moving past Klobuchar, Bennet and the keeper Delaney before laying off for Harris to smash home. 

The match was tied 3-3 and looked to be heading to penalty kicks.

Then a wondrous thing happened.

Marianne Williamson, who had been sitting cross-legged in the middle of the park for most of the match, finally stood up. She began traversing the pitch not with her feet but by sheer force of will, floating across the field. She moved the ball with her mind, bamboozling Biden and Bennet before nudging it toward Warren, who ungracefully kneed the ball over the goal line, giving Team Booker a 4-3 lead in the 90th minute. It’s truly amazing what love can do!

Having defied Western science, Williamson was immediately excoriated as a witch. But the serene author heard none of it as she gradually vanished in front of everyone’s eyes, becoming one with the force. 


Team Booker won the match 4-3, but its star player had disappeared and there were still doubts as to the veracity of the goal given by reparations. Klobuchar, Gabbard and Delaney argued vociferously that the match should go to penalty kicks while Buttigieg, Hickenlooper and Inslee accepted the loss. Buttigieg and Booker exchanged jerseys, although Booker thought it was some weird throwback to a Mean Joe Greene Coca-Cola commercial.

With Williamson gone, Warren and Sanders argued over who deserved the Golden Boot, both saying they were the most forward-thinking. Sanders said everyone outside the top one percent should get a Golden Boot, but Warren, as she always does, had a plan. She nabbed the trophy before Bernie could get his hands on it.

And thus, Warren won the first Democratic presidential primary soccer match. It wasn’t graceful, but she won the right to go one-on-one with Donald Trump, who said he plans to channel his inner Pelé to go 1970 Brazil on Warren’s ass. 

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