Alexi Lalas knows he can’t make everyone happy. Whether it’s on TV as a broadcaster or just talking about soccer in general, Lalas has long given up on pleasing everyone. That’s especially true when it comes to American soccer fans, who are not in the best of moods these days, anyway. Many are still reeling from the United States’ failure to qualify for the World Cup last November.
It was a crushing disappointment that only bears more grotesque fruit seven months later. The biggest soccer tournament in the world starts later on Thursday, and the United States will be on the sideline watching other nations have all the fun. Lalas, a former USMNT player and current broadcaster for Fox, is heading to Russia to cover the first World Cup without the U.S. since 1986.
He knows better than most what it means for the U.S. to miss the tournament, but he still has a job to do, and Lalas has publicly stated that he’s rooting for America’s continental soccer rival, Mexico, to win it all. The States might have a long history of tense matches with El Tri, but Lalas believes it’s important to represent the continent. Lalas is good at arguing passionately about something, even if it’s supporting his country’s biggest rival on the pitch.
That’s a decision that caught the eye of Estrella Jalisco, who asked Lalas to represent the United States in signing a fictional “North American Adoptive Futbol Team Agreement” (NAAFTA) treaty to support Mexico in the World Cup in Los Angeles. It’s silly, sure, but Lalas argues the cultural and political ties between Mexico and America are worth considering. He sat down with Uproxx before heading to Russia to cover the World Cup and discussed what’s next for soccer in America, who he likes in the tournament and how he’s grown as a broadcaster.
Uproxx Sports: Let’s talk about the World Cup and your role in the tournament. First of all, when are you heading over to Russia? You’re broadcasting over there for Fox, right? Have you ever been to Russia?
Alexi Lalas: I will be there for a six-week type of stint, a groundhog day, the best groundhog day you could ever live. I do studio so from our Fox perspective, we have a studio right on Red Square, and I’ll be doing day in and day out coverage. I’ve never been to Russia so I’m really looking forward to seeing that country and the people, albeit through the prism of a World Cup. It’s gonna be really cool. I’m ready to pack, which is a pain, but I’ve done this a whole lot so I think I’ve got it down to at least a science or maybe an art, but we’ll see.
By now everyone’s written a postmortem about the U.S. missing the World Cup. Obviously, it’s something that’s gonna be talked about for a long time, but now that the tournament is here do you think people will focus on who is playing or will they just lament what could have been?