The criticism towards the U.S. women’s soccer team hasn’t died down in the slightest, at least not from those at Fox Sports who are still covering the Women’s World Cup.
When the on-location panel was asked about the next steps for the program after the team’s loss to Sweden in the Round of 16, soccer analyst and former team captain Carli Lloyd continued in her blunt appraisal.
While not directly mentioning anyone by name, Lloyd joined the chorus of people who say that U.S. Soccer needs to move on from Vlatko Andonovski, whose tactics came into question long before the team was sent home.
“They have to take their time, but they also need to quickly figure out what to do with the Olympics looming,” said Lloyd. “Players shouldn’t be involved with this. In the past, players have been involved. I think someone needs to come in, they need to be ruthless, they need to make tough decisions.”
She ended her thoughts by saying a rather damning line about the team’s culture.
“This is a very, very important decision and a coach should not be friends with the players,” Lloyd said.
There’s an interesting line of thought that pervades sports when a largely successful team falls short of expectations. It’s never that a coach is too tough on the players but that he or she were too lenient. Whether that’s true or not isn’t a question that those outside of the USWNT can answer, but there’s no doubt that injuries to key players and some questionable strategies doomed the team even before arriving in Australia and New Zealand for the tournament.
Lloyd, who has become a lightning rod for her criticism of the team during the World Cup, was not the only person who kept harping on team culture. Cue Alexi Lalas, the longtime analyst and former member of the men’s team.
“Whoever comes in, they need to clean house,” he said, going on to say that maybe not a complete makeover is needed but at least one in terms of its leadership. In addressing veteran players like Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, Lalas alluded to the need for a youth movement by saying “They need to get rid of some of these players that have been around.”
Those comments are not as controversial as his post about how certain portions of America dislike the team for political reasons, but they still speak to a belief that the culture, and not Sweden’s quality play or the improvement of women’s soccer around the world, led to the early exit.