U.S. soccer player Jozy Altidore had some choice words for ESPN sports analyst Taylor Twellman after the former U.S. national team player called the U.S. men’s U23 national team’s performance “pathetic and laughable” after they failed to advance to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Taking to his Twitter account Wednesday, March 31, the Toronto FC Major League Soccer forward reposted a clip of a broadcast covering Twellman’s comments, writing, “Taylor twellman national team career was laughable.” He added, “Beasley should be that analyst or a Mia Hamm. Twellman need to be on extra time radio with Bobby warshaw. He a white boy with connects. Stop giving him a platform.”
Altidore, who played for the U23 team in 2008, followed up with another post saying, “People like Twellman telling millions that I’m this I’m that. Didn’t live up to this or that. I’m a hero Taylor to young black kings that want to play soccer.” He added, “Kids in Haiti and Caribbean. You don’t define success for me. You weren’t half of me. No more free takes.”
Altidore did not elaborate on how the critique of the current U23 team applied to him or what instance of “didn’t live up to this” criticism by Twellman he might have been referring to.
The 31-year-old’s post came after Twellman took to his YouTube page to address the U.S. failure to qualify for men’s soccer tournament in the upcoming Olympics. “The United States men’s Olympic team has failed to qualify four of the last five Olympics. That is pathetic, to say the least,” Twellman stated in the clip. “And I get it, you were missing your best players because of FIFA rules, and some of the players weren’t in season, but all of the noise, that’s just excuses.” He continued, “You can’t learn if you don’t qualify. That fact that there are excuses for a team trying to qualify on a CONCACAF is laughable to me, especially one that has every resource at its disposal.”
Fans on social media appeared split on Altidore’s decision to call out Twellman when he seemed to be addressing institutional problems with the U23 team. When questioned by one Twitter user on the matter, the athlete replied, “That’s fine. My problem is this. I’m not Messi or the best to ever do it. For USA or anyone. But Im sure as hell not a failure! I thrived in a game where it’s hard for kids that look like me to thrive in the U.S. We don’t promote the positive side. Only negative.”
Altidore seemingly was trying to join what some perceive to be a growing number of athletes that are pushing back at media coverage they deem unfair or disrespectful.
LeBron James and Serena Williams have routinely “checked” reporters they deemed to have crossed the line at news conferences. In 2019, when asked about her thoughts on Billie Jean King’s comments where King had advised the tennis player to prioritize tennis over fighting for equality, Williams returned a conversation-ending response. “The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me [the reporter was a black woman] will be the day I’m in my grave,” the athlete said.
Check out Twellman’s disapproval below that prompted Altidore’s Twitter lashing.