Alexi Lalas is an icon of American soccer. Whether it was his nine years of professional experience playing in Italy, Ecuador and MLS, or his international career for the United States where he starred in the 1994 World Cup, Alexi has always been a talking point. He is now a soccer analyst for ESPN and ABC.
Here’s the interview I conducted with him recently.
Kristan (KH): Currently you are an analyst for ESPN. Just how difficult is that job? Do you ever get frustrated at some fans nature to go over everything you say with a fine tooth comb?
Alexi (AL): I love working on TV for ESPN. Like I said, I’m an entertainer and I make no apologies for it. I have no problem with anyone taking issue with something I may say, that’s part of the gig. To be honest, opposing views are what makes sports (and politics) fun. When I meet people in person they are very respectful and actually appreciate the fact that, while they may not always agree with me, they like the fact that I’m honest, passionate and articulate when expressing my views.
KH: You once said Soccer is not a ‘fast food kind of sport.’ Do you stand by that? Do you think it’s more complicated than America’s more popular sports?
AL: Soccer is not a sport that caters to the surface pleasures. It can impact on various levels, during and after consumption. It takes its time and often the process as a whole is what leaves one satisfied, not just the obvious moments of quality. It is not a complicated game to understand but it is a complicated game to love. It requires an acquired ability to appreciate subtle nuance and accept subjective interpretations of the rules and strategies.
KH: Many fans of MLS say it’s strength is the level playing field. Can it really be considered level when teams like LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls seem so stacked in talent compared to others?
AL: I still maintain that MLS is the most competitive league in the world. I don’t say the most entertaining or popular, but with the salary cap and single-entity system we do not yet have the clear haves and have-nots that the rest of the world does. Although it’s true NY and LA have spent more on their product and are starting to pull away, the competitive parity that exists between teams is still unlike anywhere else in the world.