Alexi Lalas : Ginger Powerhouse

Who’d have thought that a decidedly average defender would eventually be a big cheese in U.S. Soccer.

The most famous ginger footballer, outside of the Premiership of course, went from nowhere to playing in the 1994 World Cup.

The only player I know who before then had never actually played any professional league football and then bang – World Cup Finals.

Before the Finals there wasn’t a professional soccer league in the USA and this was one of the conditions set before FIFA awarded the tournament to the States.

At the tournament Lalas got the world’s attention because of his look back then and because of what he did in his leisure time.

After the World Cup the idea was that the MLS would start up and Alexi join the New England Revolution for the inaugural MLS season. But there was a one year delay and Lalas was loaned out to a then Serie A team Padova.
In 1993 they had finished 4th in Serie B and after winning a playoff, were promoted to Serie A.

Padova brought in the in-limbo Lalas on loan but they still struggled and at the end of their first season back in the top flight, were in a relegation playoff with Genoa. They actually won that game and stayed in Serie A for one more season but Lalas had to leave in Feb 1996 because the MLS was finally about to begin.

After his return to the Revolution he had a couple of average seasons before they loaned him Ecuadorian First Division Club Emelec for a month. When he came back Lalas found out he had been traded and for a few more years became a journeyman footballer in the MLS.

He announced his retirement only to un-retire a year later and play for the LA Galaxy.

During his sabbatical Lalas followed the usual route of becoming a TV pundit before finally hanging up his boots and getting a job as the GM at the San Jose Earthquakes.

Eventually he transfered around the company (AEG own a number of clubs, as well as Derek’s contract) until he finally got the General Manager’s position at the LA Galaxy.

To his other activities then…

Lalas has always had musical aspirations and a few years ago was in a band called the Gypsies.

This band were, like his footballing career, slightly successful and released two albums as well as opening a few shows for Hootie & The Blowfish on their 1998 European tour.

A couple of years later Alexi released an album called…wait for it…
and one single from it. Don’t know if either the single or album charted.

According to his MySpace page (where there are some new songs) Lalas still plays and his brother Greg is the bass guitar in his band.

Your audio samples today come courtesy of carrascus and his Blogin’ in the wind blog – Lalas did a cover version of The Primitives “Crash” :

» Alexi Lalas – Crash

… and a randomly selected track from his album, chosen because the title could be footie related:

» Alexi Lalas – Half A Chance

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