After an outspoken, yet eloquent statement several weeks ago in which he called out the United States men's national soccer team, Alexi Lalas is standing by his tough words while also standing by the program.
Lalas, a member of two World Cup teams and a star in the nascent days of MLS, took to task the current United States team following a series of disappointing World Cup qualifiers in September. Now, following the team’s failure to qualify for next summer’s World Cup, even more credence is given to the critique from Lalas. Hardly a point that he made can be countered.
His famous line referring to the national team as “tattooed millionaires” resonates now after a heartless performance from the United States in a 2-1 loss at Trinidad & Tobago that saw their World Cup dreams erode.
“I think throughout this qualifying campaign in several games, we saw a lack of consistency. I think really what we saw was while a very talented group of individuals, not a very good team. It lacked consistency, it lacked leadership, it lacked personality,” Lalas told Metro. “That’s not to say that it’s not a talented group of players, probably one of the most talented groups of players we’ve had. It didn’t translate into a team that took their opportunities, recognized their opportunities and played with a sense of urgency and responsibility. And that’s when I took the team to task a couple of weeks ago, it was systematic. I didn’t tell them anything they didn’t know.”
Lalas made his original comments prior to an MLS match on Fox Sports 1 where he is a popular analyst and commentator.
But while critical of the team and their response to adversity, Lalas clearly doesn’t think that the program will be down for too long.
A member of the World Cup teams in 1994 and 1998, Lalas was the first American to play in Italy’s famed Serie A. He also has been a general manager of the New York Red Bulls and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
With attention now turning to the 2022 World Cup and how to right the national team ahead of qualifying for that tournament, Lalas thinks the program will turn things around.. While a generation of players such as Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey are now fading into the background, a bright new generation exists.
Christian Pulisic, the teenager who wears the No. 10 for the United States and stars for Borussia Dortmund, will be joined by the likes of Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams, Chelsea’s Matt Miazga and Manchester City’s Erik Palmer-Brown very soon. This could be a very talented team.
When asked if the United States will qualify for the World Cup in the next cycle, he clearly said yes.
“Oh yea and it will be glorious. If there’s one thing I know about the American soccer community, we fight, you know? Not too corny about it but we will dust ourselves, step back and ask the questions that need to be asked and more importantly answer,” Lalas said. “I think we will come back bigger and better and stronger. It’s not something we wanted or needed but as long as it is here, let’s use it as an opportunity for change that needs to be made. But not just change for change sake.”