Most domestic TV coverage of the USMNT is frustratingly friendly to the national team, and it’s rare to hear much cutting criticism, even when the team is playing like shit (which it is right now). Sunday night, however, one of the team’s biggest TV cheerleaders turned all his energy back on the squad’s poor play, as former player and current analyst Alexi Lalas went on a minute-long rant that attacked the legends and future of the men’s team.
The USMNT, currently hanging onto the edge of CONCACAF’s qualification spots, is coming off an especially dreadful pair of matches. They lost 2-0 at home to Costa Rica and were barely able to draw Honduras 1-1. The team has shown little to no creativity or ability, while these games were filled with passive forward play and defensive errors. None of the shortcomings escaped Lalas’s notice.
“Tim [Howard], the Belgium game ended three years ago. We need you to save the ball now,” Lalas began, going after the greatest keeper in USMNT history.
“Michael Bradley, the U.S. does not need you to be Zen. The U.S. needs you to play better,” he said.
The roast goes on—Jozy Altidore’s performance is “still not good enough”; Clint Dempsey needs to be a “national team leader”; Geoff Cameron should clean up or get out. Head coach Bruce Arena can’t blame predecessor Jurgen Klinsmann for his results.
At the end of the individualized list of failures, for all the players Lalas didn’t mention (including Christian Pulisic), he throws out half a bar: “You don’t even warrant a mention, and that includes you too, Wonderboy.” Things get a little weird in Lalas’s final words, as he calls the team “soft, underperforming tattooed millionaires,” but he’s right that these players have been the most-supported generation in the U.S., and moving backwards is unacceptable.
Lalas is as partisan an analyst as they come, but normally he’s openly cheering for the USMNT, not scolding them. His words reflect the truth that not even the most die-hard supporter can gloss over this team’s current flaws. The U.S. should still get to Russia 2018, but there’s little time remaining to show anything encouraging.