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Lalas rings the alarm bell
by Paul Kennedy, May 26th, 2010 1:58AM

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TAGS:  men's national team, television

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[TELEVISION WATCH] American voices will be almost entirely absent from ESPN's expansive coverage of the World Cup, but luckily it will have Alexi Lalas. He rang the alarm bell about the U.S. backline. And that was before the game started ...

Lalas was clear about what the game did or did not mean. "He knows his 23," he said of Bob Bradley before the USA went out and lost to the Czech Republic, 4-2.

But he raised concerns about those who'll be going, notably Oguchi Onyewu, who hadn't played in seven months after suffering a knee injury.

"He's a complete lame duck," said Lalas.

But he added the problems didn't stop there, listing off the two other key center backs.

"Jay DeMerit. Another center back. It was announced the other day that he's having depth-perception problems with his eyes. Possibly a problem when you're a marking back or a professional soccer player ...

"Carlos Bocanegra. We find out the guy's had [sports hernia] surgery a couple of weeks ago out. They neglected to tell us that ..."

Lalas' take on the U.S. situation was in contrast to that of German Juergen Klinsmann, who did not add much in his ESPN debut.

Klinsmann's post-game summation: "I hope the coach saw the things that he wanted to see."

WISHFUL THINKING? Bob Bradley measures his words, so it was a surprise for him to slip up in his post-game interview with Jeremy Schaap.

Among the positives he got from the loss: "Having Gooch and Stuart Holden get 90 minutes, that's also real important."

Bradley apologized for the slipup -- Onyewu only went 65 minutes -- but he sure sounded unconvinced about the fitness of his giant center back.

"Through this period," Bradley added, "he's moving better all the time. We'll see how he comes out of this game. I think he felt good coming off the field. We'll continue to work him hard."

NO WINGS IN RENNES? John Harkes' sense of humor rarely comes across on television, but he did have the line of the night when a camera caught Landon Donovan and captain Carlos Bocanegra talking while Bocanegra was eating what looked like a chicken wing in the suite for the U.S. players who didn't dress.

What was Donovan saying?

"You sure you're OK to eat that," said Harkes.

(What did you think of ESPN's coverage of the USA-Czech Republic game. Let us know in the comments below ...)



0 comments
  1. Ian Plenderleith
    commented on: May 26, 2010 at 8:16 a.m.
    Even speaking as a Brit, I have to align myself with the home consensus on this one - US games need US commentators.

  1. Lloyd Elling
    commented on: May 26, 2010 at 9:49 a.m.
    Where are the US Spanish/English speaking commentators? Does anyone out there understand that Mexico averaged over 60,000 fans in their four matches recently in the USA? We are not competing for those fans. HELLO>>>>is anyone listening?

  1. Karl Schreiber
    commented on: May 26, 2010 at 10:08 a.m.
    I agree with Ian. Perhaps it is okay to have a British commentator on ESPN since it is broadcasting worldwide. For the US games we must have US commentators. I don't see that Klinsmann added anything yesterday. On the game: Lackluster performance by every player, not just the bubble players! I'll wait for the game against Turkey (when we are supposed to see the first team) with my final assessment. Right now I am deeply disappointed.

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: May 26, 2010 at 10:59 a.m.
    Unfortunately, the US commentators fall into three categories -- bad, worse, and John Harkes. I'm sure there are some fine play-by-play guys out there doing local MLS games, but ESPN hasn't bothered to go out looking for them. They keep using the JP Dellacameras and hoping they'll improve. They won't. So the Brit commentators are just fine with me. As for Lalas, he has achieved complete adequacy as a studio commentator, but his arrogance just makes you want to punch him.

  1. Lisa Wu-fate
    commented on: May 26, 2010 at 11:01 a.m.
    ERIC WYNALDA!

  1. Ian Campbell
    commented on: May 26, 2010 at 1:10 p.m.
    Not having American announcers for the USMNT games is just wrong. The other announcers are very good, but JP is better for the USMNT games. In fact when JP did the Champions League he was great. Also Eric Wynalda did a great job on the Champions League. I would have to say that a variety of announcers is best including a combination of American, British and European.

  1. Brian Something
    commented on: May 26, 2010 at 2:06 p.m.
    The problem with most American announcers is that they seem to think they get paid by the word (Brian Dunseth being the worst example). JP is worse at this than he used to be. The only US announcers I'd want to hear would be Glenn Davis paired either with Kyle Martino or Greg Lalas.

  1. Dan Varney
    commented on: May 26, 2010 at 2:50 p.m.
    I don't care. I watch as many games on Spanish TV as I can. More passion and intelligence about the game. Bob Ley? Are you kidding me, what a dunce. Lalas, has he had an intelligent opinion about anything...ever? Harkes? Why does he feel its his job to call out every player and coach on every little thing? Isn't it his job to comment on the plays? And what is this nonsense all the time about "...the number 3 has to work harder to..." or whatever number. That is very hard for me to digest all the time... I don't mind the Galaxy guys. They do ok and stay focused on the game. They have some passion... I'm sure there are better guys in other cities. I watched the FCDallas guys on MLS Matchday Live when the Galaxy/FCD game was tape delayed. They took some getting used to but they did an admirable job. In the end, I thought Healy did a good job. I like the enuciation and pace of his commentary.

  1. Charles Davenport
    commented on: May 26, 2010 at 9:02 p.m.
    I was a bit irked by having a national team game announced by a brit, apparently pushed in by ESPN premier league and european coverage. I'll take dellacamara, the best we have, any day. If they want to give him back to the NY Redbulls, at least we'll have the best announcing team with him and Messing! i liked klinsman's comments on managerial thinking.

  1. Christopher Vreeland
    commented on: May 28, 2010 at 8:15 a.m.
    The Spanish language commentators are way better than the dolts used on ESPN. If given the option, I will always watch in Spanish as their commentators understand the game and make intelligent comments. As an added bonus, they are comfortable with occasional silence while we appreciate what we can already see. Between the annoying assumption that the viewers are complete idiots who apparently cannot see the game and have never played the game, and a readily apparent lack of ever having played the game (even Lalas comments like a kiddie league parent), the ESPN boys are generally useless. If only they were just useless, instead of downright insulting to their viewers, ESPN might pick up some more viewers. Until then, Fox Sports en Espanol & Univision get my viewership.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: May 28, 2010 at 10:22 a.m.
    What Juergen Klinsmann didn't say is obvious...there were no positives to the match. Individual performances were on the whole fair to mediocre...praise the soccer gods that JP Dellacamera is not announcing the WC games...the guy has no feel/no touch for the game...he rattles off suffocating commentary which has no substance... Messing, on the other hand, is more in tune with his commentary, short/sweet and the game speaks for itself. Why speak for the game?

  1. bill Willen
    commented on: May 28, 2010 at 11:16 a.m.
    ESPN should have American commentators. Not very impressed with the US game against the Chech. When will coach Bradley give more instructions in playing a forward passing, attacking game. Always these boring backpasses that dont produce anything. Risky forward going dribbling is just completely absent. Faking shots are soooo effective is hardly ever seen. And then these dangerous cross passes in front of their own goal, when will they learn. Until we see these qualities in the US team, we will just be marginal.


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