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Lalas to Become Galaxy President, GM Today

April 17, 2006|GRAHAME L. JONES

The redheaded stranger is returning home.

Alexi Lalas, former United States national team standout and current president and general manager of the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer, today will be appointed president and general manager of the Galaxy.

Since retiring as a player in 2004, Lalas, 35, has been groomed for management by AEG. He served first as president and general manager of AEG's San Jose Earthquakes -- now the Houston Dynamo -- and then in the same capacity for the MetroStars -- now the Red Bulls -- since June 13.

When AEG sold the MetroStars to Austrian businessman Dietrich "Didi" Mateschitz on March 9 for a figure reported to be between $50 million and $100 million, it was widely believed that Lalas would somehow be retained by AEG.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday April 18, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
Soccer: Rafael Garcia, a midfielder on Mexico's national soccer team, was incorrectly identified in a Sports article Monday as the nephew of Coach Ricardo Lavolpe. Garcia is Lavolpe's son-in-law.

The sale of the MetroStars occurred on the same day that Doug Hamilton, then the Galaxy's president and general manager, died while on a flight to Los Angeles from Costa Rica.

The Galaxy on April 7 appointed Tom Payne as assistant general manager, and he is expected to continue in that role. Lalas will take over Hamilton's duties, with overall control but with somewhat more emphasis on the soccer side of the operation than the business side.

The move by AEG sets up an intriguing dynamic in Los Angeles.

First, Lalas will be Galaxy Coach Steve Sampson's boss. It was Sampson who failed to give Lalas any playing time in the France '98 World Cup, something he has since said he regretted, and it was Sampson who was the target of a furious denouncement by Lalas -- and other U.S. players -- after that tournament.

Second, the move puts Lalas in the same Home Depot Center building as Chivas USA Coach Bob Bradley, the man Lalas fired in October as coach of the MetroStars.

If nothing else, AEG's move could create some tension in Carson.

Lalas, a guitar-strumming free spirit whose red hair and goatee led some to label him America's first soccer folk hero, also will be reunited with Landon Donovan, who was with the Earthquakes while Lalas held court in San Jose.

A five-time All-Star, Lalas spent seven seasons in MLS, including three with the Galaxy. He started for the Galaxy team that won the CONCACAF Champions Cup in 2000, the U.S. Open Cup in 2001 and the MLS Cup in 2002.

As a defender, he played 96 games and scored nine goals for the U.S. national team and was a member of the 1992 and 1996 Olympic teams and the 1994 and 1998 World Cup squads.

*

While the U.S. World Cup team can look forward to the no doubt innumerable delights of Cary, N.C., when it goes into camp there May 9, Mexico has something different in mind.

Very different.

Coach Ricardo Lavolpe's 26-man squad left Mexico City on Saturday for a week in Acapulco, the home of assistant coach and one-time Galaxy star Jorge Campos.

Mexico's team will be based among the cliff divers for a week and then goes over the edge itself with final preparatory games lined up against Venezuela at the Rose Bowl on May 5, against France at Paris on May 27 and against the Netherlands at Eindhoven on June 1.

Between May 5 and the FIFA roster deadline of May 15, Lavolpe has to cut three players. Having created a stir by leaving forward Cuauhtemoc Blanco off the team, Lavolpe will be watched closely to see if he keeps Rafael Garcia on the roster. Garcia, a 31-year-old midfielder from Atlas de Guadalajara, is Lavolpe's nephew.

Club America fans in Mexico City marched to protest Blanco's exclusion from the team. Locally, Chivas USA fans were not as motivated. They could have clamored for Francisco "Paco" Palencia to be given a chance but didn't.

Perhaps having veteran defender Claudio Suarez among the final 23 will be reward enough.

*

Here's something to get the mind going in center circles:

U.S. international DaMarcus Beasley this month won his second Dutch championship with PSV Eindhoven.

PSV Coach Guus Hiddink last week signed a $2.42-million-a-year contract to coach Russia's national team after the World Cup.

The Russian contract will be paid in part by Roman Abramovich.

Abramovich owns English champion Chelsea.

Chelsea recently signed a "strategic alliance" with the Galaxy.

Galaxy forward-midfielder Donovan used to play for the MLS' Earthquakes.

The original Earthquakes, 30 years ago, featured Hiddink in their lineup.

Hiddink's post-World Cup orders are to qualify Russia for the 2008 European Championship, to be staged by Switzerland and Austria.

The Euro 2008 final will be played in Vienna's Ernst Happel Stadium.

Ernst Happel Stadium is where the U.S. defeated Austria, 3-0, just before the 1998 World Cup when Sampson was in charge.

Sampson now coaches the Galaxy.

The Galaxy in 2000 traded a skinny 17-year-old to the Chicago Fire for two first-round draft picks.

Yes, it was Beasley.

Circle complete.

*

The possibility, noted here last week, of the 2014 World Cup perhaps coming to the U.S. has gained at least a modicum of momentum thanks to Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, FIFA's president.

Blatter told the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper Thursday that Brazil is not guaranteed the world championship in eight years and started mentioning other possibilities.

"We know the South American confederation has already said that there will be only one candidate and that candidate will be Brazil," Blatter said. "But why not have a joint bid between Argentina and Chile?

"The problem is that, even being the only candidate, Brazil has to reach the standards, which are of a very high level. The Cup will only be in Brazil if [the standards] are reached."

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