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News Every Day |

The moment Alexi Lalas lost all credibility as a soccer analyst

Alexi Lalas has been a controversial figure as an analyst for FOX Sports and its coverage of major international soccer tournaments. The two-time World Cup player for the USMNT is arguably the most recognizable face among American soccer analysts, and that is what he wants. His loud style embodies the American patriotism that the country […]

Alexi Lalas has been a controversial figure as an analyst for FOX Sports and its coverage of major international soccer tournaments. The two-time World Cup player for the USMNT is arguably the most recognizable face among American soccer analysts, and that is what he wants. His loud style embodies the American patriotism that the country has turned heads for. At its best, it is a funny skit that Americans can laugh off. At its worst, Lalas does not provide any new, critical analysis of games due to his fanaticism and attempts to entertain.

Although we are six years past the 2018 World Cup in which the USMNT did not qualify, his capitulation as a pundit traces back to that tournament in Russia. With the USA failing to participate, Lalas lost his role as a cheerleader for the United States. There was no opportunity to promote a promising player like Christian Pulisic or the usual players like Clint Dempsey or Michael Bradley. Without being able to use the USA as his crutch, Lalas had to focus on the other teams worldwide, particularly North American neighbors Mexico.

Six years of mediocrity: Alexi Lalas, analyst for FOX Sports

FIFA World Cup 2018 was a turning point for Lalas. It was his first World Cup under the FOX brand. Previously, he had done an admirable job at ESPN where he engaged in intellectual conversations around World Cup and European Championship games.

At FOX, however, his method changed. Studio coverage became less about the games, and more about embracing debate. The dumbing down of the coverage also reduced Lalas to the lowest common denominator.

Mediocrity is one thing. Selling yourself out to promote a nemesis is an entirely different matter. This was the moment where Lalas lost all credibility as a soccer analyst.

With no United States team at World Cup 2018, Lalas had no shame in supporting Mexico. Of course, it helps that Soccer United Marketing (SUM), which is Major League Soccer’s marketing arm, paid Lalas to promote Mexico during that World Cup. SUM has a contract with the federation that oversees the Mexico national team. It paid Lalas to support Mexico and a beer company. At the time, SUM similarly paid Landon Donovan to publicly root for Mexico as part of an advertising campaign for a bank.

At the time, Donovan was slammed by the public and press, but Lalas luckily escaped controversy.

Lalas’ unwavering support wavers

Still, Lalas’ betrayal still cuts deep.

In an interview before the 2018 World Cup, Lalas said “Mexico and the Mexican culture is a part of America in 2018. Having a history with Mexico on the soccer field, but also off the soccer field, maybe lends itself to me supporting this team.”

“I am supporting my friends to the south, Mexico, in this World Cup,” Lalas added on his Facebook page.

Concerns regarding Mexico and tests for his all-American support aside, the allure of his analytical style has worn off. Even at Euro 2024, FOX has used Lalas as its main analyst. Bringing in former players like Giorgio Chiellini, Ariane Hingst, Peter Schmeichel and Daniel Sturridge was a way to give FOX’s coverage a more European feel. Lalas yelling his thoughts during the coverage has stood out, and not in a good way.

Sturridge represents the new-era feel of soccer coverage that is more akin to that of CBS Sports. He suffered through Lalas’ analysis of England. While Lalas may have been making fair points about a dreadful England side, the nature of turning everything into a metaphor or callback to something in media is drawn out. American fans do not need to be coddled to make soccer relatable. They want a critical analysis of the sport where possible.

PHOTOS: IMAGO

Euro 2024

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