Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Alexi Lalas: No Longer an Inside Joke

Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat... Alexi Lalas is a moron. Need proof? Well let's let Alexi himself do the talking. While lashing out at the European media members who have been critical of the MLS and American soccer in the wake of David Beckham signing with the L.A. Galaxy, Lalas had these nuggets of wisdom for those uppity Europeans;

"There are a lot of stars in European football who would struggle over here. But Beckham has done his homework on this league, and his team-mates, and he recognises the merit of American soccer."

Oh really? "Stars" of European football who would struggle over here, eh? This must be a different league from the one that is getting lit up by an Aston Villa benchwarmer. I wonder what league he's talking about.

"They took a page out of American football and now have Saturday Showdowns and Super Sundays. I love it. This is high-calibre marketing: taking an inferior product and improving it through packaging. You know, there's no accounting for bad taste. The fact that a segment of the world worships an inferior product in the Premiership is their business."

American football has "Saturday Showdowns" and "Super Sundays"? That's news to me. Last time I checked college was on Saturday and the NFL on Sunday. Maybe I was too busy "worshiping" the "inferior" Premiership to notice. And maybe if Alexi's precious MLS could market itself that well this discussion would not even be necessary.

"In England our league is considered second-class but I honestly believe if you took a helicopter and grabbed a bunch of MLS players and took them to the perceived best league in the world they wouldn't miss a beat and the fans wouldn't notice any drop in quality."

This is the true punchline to this entire joke. Alexi slams the MLS' critics for never having watched a game, but I'm starting to wonder if he has. The level of play in the MLS is atrocious compared to top flight European soccer. I tried watching the opening day game between D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids and I couldn't get through the first twenty minutes without being embarrassed. I give the MLS credit, they are making strides to bridge the gap between themselves and the elite leagues in the world, but it's still the freaking Grand Canyon! You could take the top eleven players in the MLS and they might be able to get some playing time in the Premiership, but if they were really that good they would already be playing in the Premiership. The level of play is better in England and the money is much better. Why would players choose to stay in America if they had a realistic opportunity to play in the Premiership? To suggest that there would be no noticeable drop in quality is also just plain ridiculous. A more likely scenario is that you could drop me and ten of my friends into an MLS game and the fans wouldn't notice a drop in quality.

The bottom line is this, Lalas is trying to keep American soccer from being a big joke across the pond, but by lashing out like this (and in such absurd fashion) he is just cementing the views that most Europeans already have of the MLS and American soccer. If Alexi really wants to strike back at Europe he should try to help get the level of play in the MLS to where top players actually want to come here and play before they are washed up and can't hack it in the Premiership anymore. That is the only way to win this battle. Maybe Alexi realizes that he might not live that long.

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