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Panayotis Alexander ("Alexi") Lalas (born June 1, 1970) is a retired American soccer player who played mostly as a defender for the United States national team in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. He became the first modern-era American soccer player to play in the Italian Serie A.[1]

Alexi Lalas

Following his playing career, Lalas served as President and General Manager of the San Jose Earthquakes, New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer. He was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2006.

He currently works as an analyst with ESPN and ABC Sports.

Personal life

Lalas was born in Birmingham, Michigan, United States, to a Greek father and an American mother. His father was a professor who later became the director of Greece's national observatory, while his mother is a writer and poet. His brother, Greg Lalas, played in MLS with the Tampa Bay Mutiny and is currently the editor-in-chief of MLSsoccer.com. Lalas is fluent in Spanish.[2]

Playing career

High school

Lalas attended Cranbrook Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. While he did not begin playing soccer until he was eleven, he had honed his skills enough to be named the 1987 Michigan High School Player of the Year his senior year. In addition to playing soccer, he was a member and a captain of his state's high school state championship hockey team. Lalas was rated for the Ontario Hockey League Midget draft in 1987, however, was not selected.[3]

College

Lalas attended Rutgers University where he played on the men’s soccer team from 1988 to 1991. During his four seasons at Rutgers, he led the Scarlet Knights to the NCAA Final Four in 1989 and the National Championship Game in 1990.[4] Lalas was named a third team All-American in 1989 and 1990. In 1991, he gained first team All American recognition and was selected for both the Hermann Trophy and the Missouri Athletic Club Player of the Year award. As in high school, Lalas also played hockey in college, leading the team in scoring in 1989.[5]

Arsenal

After college and the 1992 Olympics, Lalas trained with former Arsenal player Bob McNab in California. This led to a trial with Arsenal during the winter of 1992. It was determined that Lalas did not have the quality for a first team spot, but did train with and played for the Reserve team before being cut shortly after his arrival in North London. [6]

Padova

Following the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Lalas signed with Italian Serie A club Padova. While Lalas anchored the team’s defense and scored three goals off set pieces (including against AC Milan & Internazionale), Padova finished the 1994-1995 season at the bottom of the standings. Only after winning a relegation play off on June 10, 1995, did the team ensure its survival in the top ranks for the next season. On June 25, 1995, Major League Soccer (MLS) signed Lalas to play for one of the new league’s teams. While MLS had intended to begin playing in 1995, it had run into difficulties and so delayed the first season until 1996. In order to allow Lalas to maintain his match fitness, MLS loaned him back to Padova for the 1995-1996 season. Lalas last played for Padova in a home game against Lazio on February 25, 1996.
[edit] MLS

Prior to the inaugural Major League Soccer (MLS) draft in February 1996, the league allocated high profile players throughout the league’s ten teams. As part of this process, MLS placed Lalas with the New England Revolution. Lalas was a regular on the Revs backline during the 1996 and 1997 seasons. In November 1997, the Revolution loaned Lalas to Ecuadorian First Division Club Emelec for a month. He returned to New England at the end of December only to find himself traded to the MetroStars on February 4, 1998. He spent the 1998 season with the MetroStars before being traded, along with Tony Meola, to the Kansas City Wizards for Mark Chung and Mike Ammann on January 28, 1999. Lalas spent one season with the Wizards before announcing his retirement on October 10, 1999. Just over a year later, he returned to playing when he signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy as a discovery player on January 14, 2001. Nearly three years later, he retired again, this time permanently, on January 12, 2004.[7]

National team

Lalas earned 96 caps, scoring nine goals, with the U.S. National Team between 1991 and 1998. His first cap came in a 2-2 tie with Mexico on March 12, 1991 in the 1991 NAFC Championship.[8] He gained his second cap four days later in a 2-0 win over Canada. While he started both games, he did not gain another cap until he came on for Fernando Clavijo in a 2-2 tie with Denmark on January 30, 1993. His next game, a start, came on March 23, 1993 in a 2-2 tie with El Salvador. While he became a fixture on the team through the rest of 1993, he did not cement his position as a starter in the U.S. central defense until the beginning of 1994. He went on to start and play all ninety minutes in the four U.S. games of the 1994 FIFA World Cup and was named an honorable mention All-Star. On June 11, 1995, Lalas flew directly from a relegation playoff game with his club team, Padova, in order to appear in the second half of a 1995 U.S. Cup victory over Nigeria.[9] His contributions to the national team led to his selection as the 1995 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year. While Lalas was on the roster for the U.S. at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, he never entered a game.[10] His last cap had come in the final U.S. tuneup for the finals, a May 30, 1998 scoreless tie with Scotland where he was a second half substitute for Earnie Stewart.

Alexi Lalas international goals

Amateur

Lalas is currently a part-time player for Hollywood United F.C., an American soccer club based in Southern California, primarily made up of celebrities and former pro players.

Lalas was selected as one of three overage players on the U.S. Olympic teams at both the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics.

Non-soccer playing careers

Broadcaster

During his sabbatical from soccer in 2000, he announced soccer matches on NBC for the 2000 Summer Olympics and co-hosted ESPN2's MLS Extratime. He also performed in-studio analysis for ESPN and ABC Sports coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification, the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, and for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In addition, he provided color commentary for San Jose Earthquakes television broadcasts.

Major League Soccer General manager

After his retirement from playing soccer in 2003, Lalas took a job as the general manager of the San Jose Earthquakes, franchise owned at the time by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG). In 2005, he got transferred within the AEG organization as a reward for trading the rights to Landon Donovan's contract, becoming the president and GM of the MetroStars. Lalas oversaw the club's transition to Red Bull New York, as AEG sold the club to the Austrian company Red Bull GmbH.

In April 2006, he resigned from that position to take over the Galaxy, also owned by AEG. During his Galaxy GM tenure, Lalas was one of the individuals who was given credit for bringing soccer superstar David Beckham to the Galaxy's roster. On August 11, 2008 Lalas was fired as Galaxy GM.

Musical career

Lalas was a lead member (guitars, vocals) for the rock band Gypsies, releasing two albums Woodland and Jet Lag. "Woodland" featured the single "Kicking Balls"--which was used in the soundtrack for the movie "The Big Green". The Gypsies were the opening act for eight performances of Hootie & the Blowfish during their 1998 European tour. Also in 1998, Lalas released his solo album Ginger and his single Goodnight Moon on the CMC International records label. Since the release of Ginger, Lalas has released three solo albums—the most recent, a downloadable only album called So It Goes in September 2010.

"The Sitter with Alexi Lalas"

Debuting in the 2009 season, Lalas has a weekly video segment in which he gives color commentary on the happenings around MLS. The segments are brief (2–3 minutes) and discuss all matter of content from league officiating to Lalas' musings of "if he ruled the game". All episodes are streamed directly from the league's website, MLSnet.com, and can be found in the "Exclusives" section. Episodes include:

Episode 1: "Seattle"
Episode 2: "Rapid-fire first impressions"
Episode 3: "Lacking quality in defenders"
Episode 4: "The lure of playing abroad"
Episode 5: "Where have all the cowboys gone?"
Episode 6: "Diving"
Episode 7: "Coach's challenge"
Episode 8: "If I ruled the game"
Episode 9: "Go wide, young men"


Honors

Los Angeles Galaxy

CONCACAF Champions' Cup: 2000
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup: 2001
MLS Cup: 2002
MLS Supporters' Shield: 2002


Rutgers

Hermann Trophy: 1991
Missouri Athletic Club Player of the Year: 1991


Individual

Honda Player of the Year: 1995
U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year: 1995
MLS Best XI: 2002


Career statistics

[11]
Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
USA League Open Cup League Cup North America Total
1996 New England Revolution Major League Soccer 25 1
1997 30 2
1998 MetroStars Major League Soccer 25 2
1999 Kansas City Wizards Major League Soccer 30 4
2001 Los Angeles Galaxy Major League Soccer 11 2
2002 26 4
2003 22 1
Total USA 169 16
Career total 169 16

References

^ This essay on U.S. soccer history, however, indicates that other two American-born players, Alfonso Negro and Armando Frigo, appeared for Serie A teams in the late 1930s, making Lalas the third American-born player in the Italian top league.
^ http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/id/25023
^ "Alexi Lalas Biography - Plays College Soccer, High Profile Player At World Cup, Played In Italy, Chronology, Played For Mls Team - SELECTED WRITINGS BY LALAS:". Sports.jrank.org. 1970-06-01. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
^ "Rutgers History". Scarletknights.com. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
^ "profile". Soccertimes.com. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
^ Mooney, Kevin. "Lalas in London". USA.Arsenal.com. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
^ "MLS timeline". Sams-army.com. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
^ http://www.rsssf.com/tablesu/usa-intres-det90.html
^ "''Sports Illustrated''". Sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
^ "Team Roster". Fifa.com. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
^ http://web.mlsnet.com/history/register.jsp?content=players_l

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