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As the 2022 World Cup approaches, U.S. soccer legend Alexi Lalas put together his all-time USMNT starting 11. The 1994 World Cup defender put together a solid squad, but there were a few notable snubs on his final team.

Alexi Lalas’ all-time USMNT starting 11

On his USMNT-centric State of the Union podcast, USMNT great and Fox Soccer analyst Alexi Lalas put together his all-time starting 11 for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Lalas prefaced his picks by saying he didn’t set out to put together the perfect team, positionally, but he believes the team he did pick “would be awesome” together.

At goalkeeper, Lalas picked Tony Meola (who played for the USMNT from 1988-2006) for his distribution skills. In front of Meola, the central defender didn’t choose himself. He went with former team captains Carlos Bocanegra (2001-12) and Marcelo Balboa (1988-2000). On the defensive flanks, Lalas has Jeff Agoss (1988-2003) and Steve Cherundolo (1999-2012) on the right.

In the midfield, Tab Ramos (1998-2000), who Lalas considers “the greatest American soccer player of all time,” is on the right, Claudio Reyna (1994-2006) and Landon Donovan (2000-14) are in the middle, and Christian Pulisic (2016-present) on the left. The defender does admit he is giving up some defensive ground by playing these four offensive-minded midfielders.

Finally, upfront, Lalas goes with Brian McBride (1993-2006) and Clint Dempsey (2004-17) as the strikers. These forwards are the fifth (30) and tied-for-first (57) all-time leading USMNT goals scorers, respectively.

This is a great team that Lalas put together, but who did he snub?

Notable snubs from Lalas’ starting 11

USMNT World Cup teams in 1994, 2002, 2014 with players from Alexi Lalas' all-time U.S. Men's National soccer team.
(L-R) USMNT World Cup teams in 1994, 2002, 2014 | Neal Simpson – PA Images via Getty Images; JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP via Getty Images; Joe Giddens – EMPICS / Contributor

Alexi Lalas Leaves MLS Star out of His USMNT World Cup Starting 11

The biggest snub on Alexi Lalas’ team is likely at the back with Tony Meola over Tim Howard (2002-17). The goalkeeper has 21 more appearances than Meola (121-100), 25 more wins (62-37), and 10 more clean sheets (42-32).

In central defense, Lalas could have picked himself (1991-98) or maybe Eddie Pope (1996-2006), but it’s tough to argue with the captains Carlos Bocanegra and Marcelo Balboa. At left- and right-back, the only other real option would be playing DaMarcus Beasley (2001-17) on the left instead of Jeff Agoos for an even more offensive-minded team.

The midfield is where it truly gets difficult.

Cobi Jones (1992-94) really needs to be on the team. He is first all-time on the USMNT in appearances (164), 13th in goals (15), and third (22) in assists. The easiest way to do this would be to bump Christian Pulisic. As good as he’s been early in his career, he hasn’t played in a World Cup yet, and that should disqualify him (and the rest of the current USMNT squad) for now.

Other midfielders who deserve consideration include Michael Bradley (2006-19) and Earnie Stewart (1990-2004). John Harkes (1987-2000) could also get a nod, as long as team chemistry isn’t a concern (Harkes allegedly had an affair with teammate Eric Wynalda’s wife ahead of the 1998 World Cup).

Lastly, upfront is pretty dead-on for Lalas. Clint Dempsey is a no-brainer, and Brian McBride is a better pick than Jozy Altidore (2007-19) based on the latter’s inconsistency. The only other option would be to shift from a 4-4-2 that Lalas puts forward and go with a 4-3-3 that utilizes Pulisic (or Jones) on one side and Wynalda (1990-2000) on the other wing.

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