Lindsey Horan calls out U.S. soccer fans, NWSL players: Alexi Lalas, Carli Lloyd respond to USWNT captain

Lindsey Horan created a stir when she criticized both U.S. soccer fans and NWSL players in a recent interview.

Ten years after her first cap for the U.S. women’s national team, Horan earned the captain’s armband ahead of the 2023 Women’s World Cup. But the tournament ended in disappointment.

The USWNT entered as two-time defending World Cup champions but was knocked out in the Round of 16 by Sweden in a penalty shootout. A changing of the guard came soon afterward, as Vlatko Andonovski resigned as the head coach in August.

Another major tournament approaches, with the 2024 Paris Olympics on the horizon. Emma Hayes will take the reins as head coach in May after completing her final season with Chelsea. Until then, co-captains Horan and Alex Morgan have some work to do — if they remain in their leadership positions.

MORE: All about new USWNT head coach Emma Hayes

Horan came under fire at the beginning of February after revealing her thoughts on U.S. soccer fans and NWSL players in an interview with The Athletic. The 29-year-old midfielder plays for French club Lyon, though she played for the NWSL’s Portland Thorns for six years until a loan put her overseas in 2022. 

“American soccer fans, most of them aren’t smart. They don’t know the game. They don’t understand,” she said. “(But) it’s getting better and better.”

While soccer knowledge is growing in the United States, Horan continued, Americans often rely on commentators to guide their opinions. On the other hand, French fans know the game themselves and rely less on announcers’ help.

“From what I’ve heard, people understand my game a little bit more, a sense of my football and the way I play. It is the French culture. Everyone watches football. People know football,” Horan said.

Alexi Lalas, who served as a soccer analyst for Fox during last year’s World Cup, called out Horan’s statement on social media. The relative lack popularity of soccer in the U.S. compared to Europe could mean average U.S. fans know more about the game, Lalas contended in a social media post.

In addition, Horan criticized how some NWSL teams handle the pre-match photos to announce their starting XI. While some teams take photos with players in straightforward posture, other teams’ players pose in a fun or silly manner.

“I want professionalism,” Horan said. “Those little things, they really irked me. I don’t think I could do it, and maybe I’m wrong in saying that, I don’t know. It just bothers me. We put so much into this game, and it’s just like a joke sometimes.

“We need to get back to the football. The football is the most important thing.”

Carli Lloyd, a former UWSNT teammate of Horan and a Fox Sports analyst alongside Lalas, defended her old teammate.

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