After Alexi Lalas’ rant at halftime of the Seattle Sounders and L.A. Galaxy game, Max Bretos and Herculez Gomez had a field day with the former player’s comment on the Max & Herc podcast for ESPN.
In the podcast, Gomez also shared his thoughts on Craig Burley of ESPN’s view of the U.S. team. Gomez described the Lalas rant as ‘over the top.’ For his part, Bretos didn’t seem to have a problem in general with the comments or their targets. Bretos did point out that Lalas’ comments were very pointed.
Speaking about Burley, Gomez had this to say:
“Our ESPN colleague Craig Burley and I had a discussion on (ESPN)FC, and you have to understand. These guys are showman. Craig doesn’t want to talk about CONCACAF. He doesn’t want to talk about the league…so he changes the narrative to what he wants to talk about.”
He went on further to say:
“Craig couldn’t name the squad. He couldn’t name the players. He doesn’t care. He plays his persona, and that’s why he’s successful at what he does” Speaking about Lalas, Gomez had this to say: “To me this feels like a cop out. It feels like a cheap plagiarism. A little over the top.”
Gomez separated himself from other American soccer analysts by not being afraid to question the actual knowledge of a non-American pundit. Part of Burley’s worldview is that there is no real soccer played in CONCACAF, and Gomez essentially called him willfully ignorant. Instead of actually talking about the team and the players, Burley will just talk in sweeping generalizations about the U.S. team while forcing whomever he is speaking to to answer “yes or no” questions without allowing the person to give a nuanced answer.
Already we see Gomez as an analyst and pundit who isn’t intimidated or bullied around by pundits from Europe or the British Isles. He knows his soccer, and he’s not shy about calling a colleague out for not knowing enough on a certain topic. Gomez was pointing out how Burley’s opinion shouldn’t matter if he doesn’t know the team or the players and doesn’t want to know.
Now looking at Gomez’s comments about Lalas, it certainly wasn’t plagiarism by Lalas. Lalas sounded off on various players for specific reasons, whereas Burley just talked about the same topic of the U.S. national team.
Gomez gave specific retorts to all of Lalas’ player attacks. He argued that goalkeeper wasn’t a position where the U.S. was weak. The former player contended that Lalas wasn’t specific about how Bradley could play better. He also shared his opinion that Altidore’s scoring record speaks for itself.
Gomez went on to say this about Lalas:
“It’s over the top from Alexi. He’s pandering. He’s playing to the crowd when he says it’s dark days indeed. He didn’t say it when the U.S. beat Honduras in… what was it? 6-0 in San Jose? Then they went to Panama and they tied, and the U.S. did not play well. And he didn’t say that. He says it now because of the Costa Rica game. The U.S. whenever they go on the road they don’t play well. Nobody plays well on the road. They all just get results. They all just try to get results.”
And the most personal aspect of his response to Lalas was, “Alexi Lalas was known more for his look than his play.”
Gomez laced into Lalas a little more when he said, “There’s a sentiment with the players that that whole 94’ class is still in a way bitter that they didn’t get their due.”
Unlike Gomez, Bretos found Lalas’s comments more entertaining than controversial. Bretos knows much more about world soccer and American soccer than most in the United States, and his opinions and thoughts were insightful and accurate as usual. He was right to point out that Lalas’ comments were nothing compared to what people say in other countries about their clubs and national teams where he said pundits ‘empty the chamber’ when criticizing.
Despite all of Gomez’s various critiques of both Lalas and Burley’s comments about the U.S. team, Gomez declared the result of Lalas’ rant good.