Alexi Lalas’ criticism of the U.S. Men’s National Team made waves over the weekend, and the team’s captain became the first to respond to Lalas’ criticisms on Wednesday.
Michael Bradley was asked about Lalas’ recent comments, which called out the USMNT following a frustrating September international break that included a loss to Costa Rica and a draw in Honduras. Lalas directed criticism at Bradley, Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Geoff Cameron, signaling out the team’s leaders with World Cup qualification in danger while calling the team “a bunch of soft, underperforming, tattooed millionaires”.
“Part of being an athlete, a competitor is understanding that everybody has an opinion, especially in the world today,” Bradley said, according to Sportsnet. “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.”
Bradley’s club head coach, Greg Vanney, also opted to weight in. A former USMNT defender himself, Vanney understands the rigors of CONCACAF qualifying, much like Lalas does.
“Those of us who’ve played in CONCACAF [like Lalas] understand the challenges of playing in CONCACAF and qualifying [for the World Cup]. Having said that, I think he did what he wanted, which was to draw attention to himself and his media outlet.
“Otherwise, if you want to make a statement to someone, pick up the phone and call some of those guys … You have that kind of ability to do that because of your position within U.S. Soccer in the past. If you’re really upset, then call somebody and have a conversation with them. I don’t buy into the ‘make a lot of noise’ stuff. That for me is, whatever, that’s about you, it’s not about them.”
Vanney went on to say that Lalas didn’t offer anything constructive in his criticisms.
“If you ask [the U.S. players], I would say they expect more of themselves. They expect that they should be in a position to qualify,” Vanney added. “They have all of the same expectations. But to just say those things is not to give solutions, it’s nothing. Our policy here [at TFC] is have solutions – just don’t call out and bark out all the problems. Have solutions, and if you don’t have solutions, don’t be the guy that sits on the sidelines and starts rambling about stuff.
“Sometimes for me it’s more than just work rate, sometimes it’s more than just ‘you got to play better.’ It’s how, why? Doing what? What are the actual solutions to this? The rest of it is just banter, nonsense. Have a real solution.”
The USMNT returns to action against Panama in Orlando before closing World Cup qualifying in Trinidad & Tobago.