The former USA international Alexi Lalas launched a tirade against Bruce’s Arena’s team on Sunday, calling the players “underperforming, tattooed millionaires.”
After a string of mediocre results, the US could face a playoff against Syria or Australia to qualify for next year’s World Cup – if they make it that far in the first place.
Lalas, a pundit for Fox Sports, made his comments during coverage of the Seattle Sounders-LA Galaxy on Sunday night.
“It’s dark days, indeed, but this is a time for leaders to step up,” he said. “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 US does not need you to be zen, the US needs you to play better. Jozy Altidore. Is this really as good as it gets? Because it’s still not good enough.”
Lalas, who won 96 caps for the US, is usually a firm backer of the national team but he did not spare the younger members of the team. That included the US’s great young hope, Christian Pulisic. “And, oh, by the way, to all the guys that I didn’t mention, it’s because you don’t even warrant a mention,” he added. “That includes you too, Wonder Boy.”
When Jürgen Klinsmann was fired as USA coach last year, many believed the appointment of Arena would reverse the team’s fortunes. But they managed just one point from their last two matches and are fourth in their group, one place off the automatic qualifying spots for Russia 2018.
“So, what are you guys going to do?” Lalas said. “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.”
The US still have their fate in their own hands: if they win their remaining fixtures against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago they will qualify.
This article was written by Guardian sport, for theguardian.com on Monday 11th September 2017 21.33 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010