July 5, 1994 |
Alexi Lalas, who seemed to be a gimmick when this World Cup started - a rock 'n' roller playing soccer - left the field yesterday as probably the biggest American star. As long as the United States was in the World Cup, there was no way around the gigantic redhaired defender with the raging goatee. Yesterday, Brazil would slink the ball toward the United States goal only to find Lalas heading the ball or tangling up one of the superstar scorers or just getting a toe on the ball.
June 13, 1993
U.S. SOCCER COMES OF AGE Only a year and a half ago, Alexi Lalas was playing soccer for Rutgers against Textile and Temple. But last Wednesday night, the tall red-haired sweeper helped make soccer history when he scored the second goal in the United States' 2-0 victory over England - the country where the modern game was born. The story was buried in sports sections here, but in humiliated England, it was a front-page sensation. The victory also marked a milestone in American sport because it was no fluke.
May 10, 1994 |
The long curls of strawberry blond hair are kept in a plastic bag under the bathroom sink. Alexi Lalas had them cut off so he could make the U.S. national soccer team in 1991, but the shorn locks are neither forgotten nor gone. Lalas, a modestly talented defender whose hard work has made him a favorite of U.S. coach Bora Milutinovic, needs reminders these days. So, the hair stays. Even as the U.S. team prepares for the World Cup, the ultimate stage for any soccer player, Lalas chooses to recall that seven years ago he was a modestly talented high school player without a college recruiter dialing his number.
June 13, 1998
All right, class, let's repeat our word for the day: GOLLLLLLLLLLLL! That wasn't so hard, was it? Let's try again: GOLLLLLLLLLLLL! It's the word gol, Spanish for goal. And it's what Andreas Cantor, soccer commentator for Univision, bellows when a soccer ball finds its way into the net. It's World Cup time. In the next month, the best soccer team in the world will be crowned. America may find soccer boring, incomprehensible, irrelevant - but who's asking America? The rest of the world has begun a month of lunatic worship in which the altar is a playing field and the acolytes wear cleats.
September 8, 1997 |
On a day marked by dramatic upheaval on the field, the U.S. soccer team played one of its most stable and satisfying matches in recent memory. Alexi Lalas, the most recognizable face in American soccer, was benched for the first time in years. Eric Wynalda, the team's star striker, decided 10 minutes before the game that an injury would prevent him from playing. Two previously dismissed players, Roy Wegerle and Preki Radosavljevic, returned to the national team after a sustained absence to perhaps punch their own tickets for the 1998 World Cup. And Tab Ramos, a scrapping midfielder whose attitude can ignite this team, finished his comeback from knee surgery with a laser shot in the 78th minute that gave the United States a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in a vital World Cup qualifying match.
June 26, 1998 |
At halftime of last night's final World Cup match for the United States, when even a reprieve from the eventual 1-0 loss to Yugoslavia would not have diminished the overall disappointment, five veterans gathered on the field for a poignant group picture. Alexi Lalas, Tab Ramos, Eric Wynalda, Marcelo Balboa and Jeff Agoos threw arms around each other's shoulders and produced wry, ironic grins for the photographer. "I wanted at least one picture of me on the field," Lalas said later.
June 22, 1994 |
The thing about being an emerging soccer nation is that, with no tradition to lean back on, each succeeding game takes on more significance. Tonight in the World Cup, the U.S. national soccer team will play the latest biggest game in its history when it takes on Colombia in front of an expected sellout crowd of more than 92,000 at the Rose Bowl. ESPN is televising the game beginning at 7:25 p.m. "Every time we do something well, I think we're just climbing up the ladder and setting another precedent for soccer in the United States," U.S. defender Cle Kooiman said.
October 24, 1993 |
With his Mitch Williams-like hair flapping almost as wildly as his gangly, 6-foot, 3-inch frame, red-headed Alexi Lalas was the most noticeable player yesterday for the U.S. national soccer team. He was also the most notable, as he consistently rushed up from his defensive position to join the offensive play. Lalas nearly scored three times, but the United States came up short, falling to Ukraine, 1-0, before 7,896 at Lehigh University's Goodman Stadium. The game was the U.S. team's latest in its quest to prepare for the World Cup next summer (the team must pare its roster to 22 players)
June 25, 1994 |
If soccer is truly a game in which style can be as pleasing as substance, the best moment for the U.S. team in its win over Colombia came when defender Marcelo Balboa launched a spectacular bicycle kick shot at the goal. Balboa, part of the lanky central defense unit, redirected a long crossing pass just wide of the right post, missing soccer immortality by the width of a ball. "I love Pele, but Marcelo would have replaced Pele as far as bicycle kicks go," said goalkeeper Tony Meola.
November 20, 1991 |
Alexi Lalas is lead guitarist and vocalist for a band that often plays the top dives in New York's Greenwich Village. "He's a rocker," the band's drummer said in praise. But this fellow with a mop of tangled red hair is also a sweeper, possibly the top college soccer player in the nation. A starting defender for the United States Olympic team, Lalas captains the Rutgers soccer team, which is 19-2-1 and was ranked No. 1 in the country for a stretch earlier this year. The Scarlet Knights reached the championship game of the NCAA tournament last year before losing to UCLA, and are now ranked fourth in the nation.