The guest on this episode is Alexi Lalas. And if you’re listening to this podcast, it’s safe to assume you know who Alexi is.
The other night, while on my break at my day job, I was sitting at the bar typing fiercely on my laptop until someone asked me what I was working on. So, I told her I was preparing for a podcast interview I had coming up. She asked who? I said Alexi Lalas. And she responded very enthusiastically with “OMG! I love him! He’s so blatantly honest.”
People look at Alexi as a speaker of the truth. People gravitate towards him. Something about his red hair must be soothing to American soccer fans. Although he is commonly depicted as a villain, frequently chooses the underdog, and is someone who always finds himself in debate… the people still love him.
While preparing for this interview, I thought long and hard about how I wanted to go about it.
Do I go in guns blazing with questions about pro/rel right out of the gate? Do I tell him I’m tired of hearing that MLS is unique? Or do I actually try to get to know the guy like I did with previous guests such as Eric Wynalda, Tom Byer, and Hugo Perez?
I chose to get to know him. And I think I made the right decision.
It only took me about a minute to tell Alexi that I don’t like him. Because after years and years of watching and listening to Alexi, I’ve concluded that him and I do not see eye to eye on much of anything at all. If you follow me on Twitter you know that I’ve harassed Alexi for years. But, for some reason, he accepted the invitation to come on the show. And for that, I have to give him props.
Alexi and I start off by talking about his formative years. He tells me about his first experiences with soccer as a young boy in Greece. He admits that while growing up he was probably better at hockey than soccer. He said he was raised in a household that encouraged debate… and… viola! Now we have some context.
I don’t want to spoil the entire episode for you, but I encourage you to listen until the end. We touch on the ’92 Olympics, ’94 and ’98 World Cups, and his interview with former USMNT Coach Steve Sampson. And you can bet your sweet little ass that I steer this ship right into the eye of the storm that we call promotion and relegation.
The one and only regret that I have with this episode is that Alexi and I were cut short. You will hear an unfortunate, awkward, and abrupt end to our conversation right when I felt like things were getting good.
It’s amazing how fast ninety minutes goes by when you’re talking about soccer.
Off-air Alexi and I discussed the possibility of a round two. I hope he rejoins me someday soon. Because even though we don’t agree on certain things, I think it’s important that these conversations happen. I think it’s important that we’re bringing exposure to some of US Soccers most important issues. I think it’s important that guys like Alexi share their opinions. And I think it’s important that guys like Alexi make time to hear the opinions of people like you and I.
So, with that, I’ll get out of the way. I hope you enjoy my conversation with the one and only Alexi Lalas.
Well done. In your intro, when you said it ends abruptly at 90 minutes I thought for sure you had pissed him off and he hung up on you, but I’m glad I made in to the end to find that wasn’t the case. It was an amicable, and interesting, discussion all the way through.
One thing he said early on stuck out to me. He mentioned in his time in Greece playing sandlot soccer, “something you don’t see as much in the U.S.”
It’d be interesting to get his thoughts on how much he thinks that hinders the game in the U.S. (the fact that it isn’t played informally near as much as the more popular US sports) and whether he felt that foreign sandlot experience gave him an edge when he started playing in the U.S.