During a break in Sunday’s broadcast of the MLS game between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders, former player and Fox Sports analyst Alexi Lalas took the United States men’s national soccer team squad to task, and he wasn’t afraid to name names during a minute-long rant.
“It’s dark days, indeed, but this is a time for leaders to step up,” Lalas, who played for the USMNT from 1991 to 1998, said Sunday. “And so to the supposed leaders, I will say this. Alright, Tim Howard. Tim, the Belgium game ended three years ago. We need you to save the ball now. Geoff Cameron, clean it up, or let’s get someone who will. Clint Dempsey, you’re a national team legend; now we need you to be a national team leader. Michael Bradley, the U.S. does not need you to be Zen, the U.S. needs you to play better. Jozy Altidore, is this really as good as it gets? Because it’s still not good enough.”
Lalas also mentioned U.S. Coach Bruce Arena, who replaced Jurgen Klinsmann last November.
“Bruce Arena. Bruce, Jurgen Klinsmann lost at home to Mexico. You lost at home to Costa Rica,” Lalas said. “This is now all on you, not Jurgen. “And, oh, by the way, to all the guys that I didn’t mention, it’s because you don’t even warrant a mention. That includes you too, Wonder Boy. So, what are you guys going to do? Are you going to continue to be a bunch of soft, underperforming, tattooed millionaires? You are a soccer generation that has been given everything; you are a soccer generation who’s on the verge of squandering everything. So, now it’s time to pay it back. Make us believe again. You don’t owe it to yourselves, you owe it to us. And . . . get off my lawn.”
(The unnamed “Wonder Boy” is 18-year-old midfielder Christian Pulisic.)
The United States has struggled during World Cup qualifying, most recently while salvaging a 1-1 draw with a late goal against Honduras last week. With two qualifying matches to play, the Americans rank fourth in the six-nation CONCACAF, which will send at least three teams to next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The USMNT can secure its place at the party with wins over third-place Panama and last-place Trinidad and Tobago next month, but Arena’s squad remains in real danger of failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. The fourth-place CONCACAF finisher will play a two-leg playoff against Asia’s fifth-best team.