Alexi spoke with TMZ Sports after Clint hung up the cleats Wednesday ... and when we asked about greatest U.S. soccer players of all time -- Lalas told us Nomar Garciaparra's boo was better than Clint.
"You can put Mia Hamm higher than Clint Dempsey," Lalas says.
Don't feel too bad for Clint ... Lalas did have a bunch of great things to say about him when it came to MALE players -- even if he had him behind Landon Donovan in his rankings.
"If I needed a goal scored in a World Cup Final, I would go to Landon Donovan," Lalas says.
"But, if I needed someone to have my back in a bar, I'm going with Clint Dempsey."
Alexi appreciated Dempsey's care-free, on-field attitude too ... and you gotta hear the expletive-laced quote that he says sums up Clint perfectly.