Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy won the Football Confederation Champions Cup in January. Veteran MLS defender Alexi Lalas (31), who helped inspire the Galaxy’s Champions Cup victory and has also appeared 96 times for the National Team, playing in two World Cups in 1994 and 1998, talks about the up-and-coming MLS and the surge in American soccer success.
AW: What did the Galaxy’s Champions Cup win mean to U.S. soccer and MLS?
AL: The opportunity to win a Cup for the Galaxy, then for MLS and for American soccer, was such a huge point because we get few opportunities along the way to show we know what we’re doing and that we’re progressing, and to gain some respect. So when these tournaments come along, MLS teams have to grab the opportunity with both hands and milk it for all it’s worth, because people take notice when you succeed at the international level.
AW: Having played professionally in Italy, and around the world for the U.S., how do you rate MLS?
AL: There’s a characteristic that runs through most MLS players nowadays — that’s a belief in American soccer. If you just examine MLS from the soccer being played and take away the fact that we have all these other sports in the culture we live in, I am convinced we are producing top quality soccer and players that can compete against anyone in the world.
AW: How do you see MLS developing?
AL: It’s going in the direction of a feeder league. I would hope that we not only develop young players who could go overseas, but also establish a league that’s entertaining and that’s going to grow.