Alexi Lalas blasts U.S. national team's 'soft, tattooed millionaires' in tirade
Former U.S. defender Alexi Lalas blasted the national team amid its current struggles to qualify for the World Cup, calling the players "underperforming, tattooed millionaires."
After losing to Costa Rica and drawing in Honduras this month, the U.S. team will have its qualification hopes go down to the final day of CONCACAF qualifying. If the side cannot improve on its current fourth-place standing, it could move on to an intercontinental playoff against Australia or Syria in November.
And Lalas, now a commentator for Fox Sports, made his feelings clear -- player by player -- on a live, televised tirade during Sunday night's broadcast of the Seattle Sounders-LA Galaxy game.
"It's dark days, indeed, but this is a time for leaders to step up," he began. "And so to the supposed leaders, I will say this....
"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. Yeah, 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 targeted U.S. coach Bruce Arena, who before the loss to Costa Rica enjoyed a 14-game unbeaten streak this year upon replacing Jurgen Klinsmann.
"Bruce Arena. Jurgen Klinsmann lost at home to Mexico. You lost at home to Costa Rica. This is now all on you, not Jurgen," he continued.
And he also took a shot at young star Christian Pulisic, adding: "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."
Lalas, who played for the United States at the 1994 World Cup, concluded by targeting the mindset of the current team and saying that they owed their supporters better performances.
"So, what are you guys going to do?" Lalas went on. "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."
In response, ESPN analyst Herculez Gomez, a former U.S. striker, called Lalas a "showman" who smartly struck a chord with the U.S. fanbase, but he took issues with much of the message.
"To me this feels like a cop-out," Gomez said on the Max & Herc Podcast. "It's over the top from Alexi. He's pandering, he's playing to the crowd.
"Is everything Alexi Lalas said wrong? No. Alexi is on to something. ... You definitely have to hold players accountable."
Gomez took particular issue with Lalas' conclusion, where he said the current generation has been "given everything."
"There seems to be a sense with the players, and not just nowadays, but in other generations, that that whole '94 class is still bitter that they didn't get their due.
"There is a saying, 'Pioneers get the arrows, settlers get the land.' ... That whole class feels today's players are given everything, and those players they were back then -- now, they would have had a lot more."
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