Beginning by saying, “It’s time for leaders to step up,” and then branding those leaders as “supposed,” Alexi Lalas lashed into the United States men’s national team during an MLS telecast on Sunday.
Lalas took shots at several individual players — some deserving, some not — as the Yanks prepare for next month’s make-or-break World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.
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In terms of coming from the hot takery, the diatribe is most notable not because of what Lalas says, but because of the messenger himself. Lalas is a former national team member, a sort of fraternity which doesn’t often show cracks. Lalas would likely argue the tough love is quite deserved, and he’s a sort of “boots on the ground” man who’s been around enough fans to know the feeling of the most ardent U.S. supporters.
Is Lalas’ criticism warranted? Sure. Will it be constructive? It’s hard to imagine the guys on the team needed to be fired up to avoid becoming national punch lines for their sport, and the rant doesn’t take away any pressure.
Most notable was Lalas saying anyone he didn’t mention doesn’t deserve to be mentioned, then going on to
mention say, “That includes you, Wonderboy” in regards to phenom Christian Pulisic. That’s a tough one, as the 18-year-old does need to be described without his age soon, but also was not one of those players skating through the loss to Costa Rica and draw at Honduras.
Lalas also called out Tim Howard in saying the Belgium game was three years ago, which seems rough considering the goalkeeper isn’t known for resting on his laurels. Then again, it’s worth noting that Lalas would know the player a bit better than those of us who see him in locker rooms or read his book.
Of course we understand that the message also happens to boost ratings for MLS and leads to Retweets, Favorites, and posts like this, and it would be naive to say anything less.
What do you think? The full rant is below.