Why Alexi Lalas’ U.S. National Team Rant Was Great for American Soccer

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Alexi Lalas’ rant about the U.S. National Team poor play against Costa Rica and Honduras was just what the doctor ordered for U.S. soccer because the remarks were entertaining and funny without being overly personal or insulting. They were a little personal and insulting, but not overly so.

The delivery of his takes tended toward the mean, but they weren’t off base or wrong.

His comments should inspire some more specific discussion of the play of the various U.S. players instead of U.S. Soccer trying to tell the media and fans that they aren’t allowed to have an opinion. Even Max Bretos, who is discussed below, pointed out how there’s a fear that any criticism of U.S. Soccer would create a toxic relationship with the federation.

Lalas’ rant was funny, and if you didn’t think so, then you might be too uptight. It was after all a staged performance with the desired effect of getting more discussion of the U.S.’s play.

Tim Howard was criticized for not making a save. Geoff Cameron was criticized for a sloppy pass. Clint Dempsey was criticized for not leading. Michael Bradley was criticized for not playing well enough. Jozy Altidore was criticized for not playing up to his potential.

The comments were insulting, but they didn’t feel too insulting.

There is a definite feeling that Lalas in a way made it acceptable for the American press to be more critical of the U.S.’s play. Despite this, Lalas’ comments were not well received by Greg Vanney, the coach of Toronto FC.

It was telling how Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore’s coach for Toronto FC complained about Lalas’ right to criticize his players in public. Criticizing soccer players’ play during a soccer broadcast is ubiquitous around the world, but some felt Lalas, a soccer analyst and commentator, didn’t have the right to share his soccer opinions. To be fair, Lalas’ comments were delivered in a Piers Morgan-esque meanness.

 

Maybe the Lalas rant will inspire some more specific and advance discussion of the United States’ play in the future instead of so many people throwing up resistence to anyone’s right to critique the U.S.’s play.

Until now, it has felt like U.S. Soccer (The United States Soccer Federation) and the players have tried to tell everyone that nobody else in the U.S. knows anything about soccer. Bradley in particular under both Jürgen Klinsmann and Bruce Arena has tried very hard to dismiss any observations that the media or fans have made about the team’s play.

 

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