Former U.S. men's national team member and current soccer broadcaster Alexi Lalas went on an impassioned rant on Sunday, calling the current generation of USMNT "a bunch of soft, underperforming, tattooed millionaires" after the team lost to Costa Rica and drew Honduras in the most recent round of World Cup qualifying. And now two prominent players—Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley—have responded.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 11, 2017
"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," Lalas said. "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 then called out USMNT coach Bruce Arena before moving his target back to the players.
"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," he said. "Wonder Boy" is a thinly veiled shot at Pulisic, the 18-year-old who has been deemed U.S. soccer's next big thing.
Pulisic and team captain Bradley have both responded to the viral rant. Pulisic was asked about Lalas' comments after his club team, Borussia Dortmund, lost its Champions League opener to Tottenham by a 3-1 scoreline.
"I heard about it. I am not going to lose sleep about what Alexi Lalas has to say about us. He can say what he wants,” Pulisic told NBC Sport's Joe Prince-Wright.
Bradley was less diplomatic in his response to Lalas.
"Part of being an athlete, a competitor is understanding that everybody has an opinion, especially in the world today," Bradley told SportsNet Canada. "Everybody has a platform to fire off a hot take whenever they want. It’s life. You’re in the wrong business if that throws you off.
“You use it in the right ways, you use it as motivation. You make sure you don’t forget who the [people] along the way are who had a lot to say. One of the recent [sayings] that I’ve seen that I like is, ‘The lion doesn’t care about the opinion of the sheep.’ I’ll leave it at that. …. It’s pretty fitting.”
Altidore weighed in via Twitter as well.
I dont even have any tattoos ????.
— Jozy Altidore (@JozyAltidore) September 13, 2017
The USMNT is currently in fourth place in the CONCACAF hexagonal with two games remaining, and only the first three in the standings receive an automatic berth. The U.S. hosts Panama on Oct. 6 and plays Trinidad & Tobago away on Oct. 10.