Panayotis Alexander (Alexi) Lalas (born June 1, 1970 in Birmingham, Michigan) is a former football defender, who became one of the most famous soccer players in the United States after he played in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. In 2006, he was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame. He is currently the President and General Manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer.
Alexi attended Michigan prep Cranbrook Kingswood School and played college soccer at Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, he led the team to a Final Four appearance in 1989 and to the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship in 1990. A three-time All-American in college, Alexi also won both the Hermann Award and the Missouri Athletic Club Player of the Year Award in 1991 as the consensus national college player of the year.
Lalas joined the U.S. National Team (his first cap came on May 6, 1990 against Canada), and became a starter by the 1994 World Cup, when his wild red hair, outgoing personality, and steady play on the field made him a fan favorite. He earned a contract with Padova of Italian Serie A, becoming the first – and to date, the only – American to play in the Italian first division, playing there between 1994 and 1996.
In 1995, Alexi was named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year. He left Italy for MLS, where he played for New England Revolution (1996-97), MetroStars (1998), Kansas City Wizards (1999), and Los Angeles Galaxy (2001-03). He was used as a drawing card in his first three MLS stops, without much success on the field. It was with the Galaxy that he showed his best form, being named to the MLS Best XI in 2002 and winning the MLS Cup the same year.
Lalas also competed for the United States in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics. He retired with 96 caps and nine goals for the national team and took a job as the General Manager of the San Jose Earthquakes, becoming one of the youngest executives in American sports. In 2005, he was transferred within the Anschutz Entertainment Group organization to become the President and GM of the MetroStars and oversaw their transition to Red Bull New York, as AEG sold the club to Red Bull. In April 2006, he resigned from that position to take over the Galaxy, also owned by AEG.
Lalas remains something of a folk-hero among English soccer aficionados, on account of his goal for the United States in their 2 – 0 win over England in 1993, as much as for his flamboyant personality. England were managed by Graham Taylor, who is widely regarded as the worst England team manager of the modern era. The defeat by the USA is seen in England as a particularly bad result, and Taylor was sacked soon afterwards .
Lalas is a son of a Greek father who coached him in his youth. Alexi is an avid musician who has released three albums with his band "The Gypsies," with whom he plays guitar. He tried to parlay his soccer success into a music career, putting out CDs Woodland, Jet Lag, and Ginger. During his sabbatical from soccer in 2000, he announced soccer matches on NBC for the 2000 Summer Olympics and co-hosted ESPN2's MLS Extratime. He also performed in-studio analysis for ESPN and ABC Sports coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.