Alexi Lalas on Reinventing Yourself in American Soccer I #AskASoccerPro Show Ep. 058
We were joined this week on the #AskASoccerPro Show by none other than Alexi Lalas! Alexi played in the 1994 World Cup, has been on two Olympic teams, played soccer in Serie A, and had an illustrious MLS career. Now, Alexi is a soccer analyst for Fox and has his own podcast, State of the Union.
Listen in as Alexi and Quincy discuss reinventing yourself in American soccer! Here is what they cover:
00:00 – 06:57: Intro
07:39 - 10:41: Alexi Lalas Joins the Live!
10:42 – 13:19: Reinventing Yourself
13:24 - 16:21: Personality and Growing the Sport
16:24 – 18:25: Making Mistakes
18:27 – 20:45: Crafting a Persona
20:49 – 24:22: Cutting Through the BS
24:23 – 28:07: You’re Never Going to Please Everyone
28:16 - 33:36: Seizing Unfair Opportunities
33:49 - 35:04 The Responsibility to Pay it Forward
35:05 – 44:14: The American Player
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*Interview transcript is unedited and machine-generated. There will be errors. For further clarity please refer to the audio or video interview.
Quincy Amarikwa (00:23):
Quincy Amarikwa (00:24):
Yo yo, yo, what up everybody? Glad to see everybody joining in on the live. Edgar. What's going on?
Quincy Amarikwa (00:33):
Maximum storm. Welcome Andy pithead. [inaudible] welcome to the live, soccer dad for life. John Hollinger. Welcome to the live guys. Connor 42 happy to see your avis, love seeing you guys join in. Sirena's joining in. What up Sirena? Nickelodeon. Welcome to the live, what's going on? Anez welcome as always, Fernie, happy to see you again. Uh, J S Ruaz what's going on? Eric Parks said let's go. Yes, Eric, you know what it is. It is a good one today. And uh, let me pull it up. You guys know what it is. Let's see what we got here. It's a good one today because it is another, it's a Thursday one which makes it a great day. But you guys know what the best part about Thursday is. It is the #AskASoccerPro Show and I'm your host, 11 year MLS pro and current master mental strength coach Quincy Amarikwa and uh, I'm excited.
Quincy Amarikwa (01:39):
Today's going to be a good one. I want to welcome everybody in for a, a great episode today. I believe it's going to be a great episode cause as you can see on the screen here, right now, for those of you joining in on the live, and those of you listening to the live replay on your streaming podcast place of, of choice, you're not able to see what's on the screen right now because you're not joining in on the live. So shame on you. I better see you guys here on the live here moving forward. But on the screen is a photo of sir Alexi Lalas, a member of the two Oh 1992 U S Olympic team and the 1998 world cup squad, first American player to play in Italy's top division Serie A with club Padova. Man, this man's resume is a long one. And, uh, he is the current host of the State of the Union podcast and I'm excited to be having him here on the show.
Quincy Amarikwa (02:31):
He'll be joining in and calling in here soon, but you guys know what it is and how we do it here every Thursday on the Perfect Soccer account. Uh, J J said, I'm so excited. Soccer dad for life said, let's get it. Oh God, you guys know what it is, uh, before Alexi joins in here and uh, and hops in and we get into the interview, cause I definitely wanna make sure we're having enough time to really break down his mentality, um, and share that with everybody on the live and listening to the replay. And you know what we're doing here now, we're definitely going with more themes of the show. So we're bringing you guys that deep MSL knowledge. That's all we do here. We package it up and we, and we, and we, we wrap it in a nice little pretty bow and we, and we, and we present it over to you as a gift, but you must receive that gift, download that gift, and, and implement the lessons and the things that we share with you here on this account regularly.
Quincy Amarikwa (03:33):
Pit head knows what it is. I'm in your head. Emoji. You guys know what it is. Loving that. If you guys can spam that heart button, if you're hearing me, if you're excited for tonight's show and you're excited for tonight's guest and dropping your on your head emoji so I can just, I can, I can see the buy in, I can see, I can see it. It will only help me be that much more juiced in that much more focused in on asking the questions that you guys are wanting to know. There we go. I'm loving that. I'm seeing that right there too. To really understand how to, uh, take the tools and the patterns and all of the lessons that we learn in the game and translate that into being successful off the field. And today's theme is career longevity and reinventing yourself. Developing a longterm winner's mindset.
Quincy Amarikwa (04:18):
You guys know what that is here and you know what we do on the show. We're breaking down the mentalities that are required to become and maintain success. And I believe Alexi is a great example of a, of a, of an individual who has used his platform and his experiences to reinvent himself over the course of his life. Um, many people know him for his, uh, soccer playing career, which is awesome. Um, but many more people know him now because of the things he's been able to, uh, use the platform of his soccer career to become what he is today. So I'm, I'm excited to have him join here soon and uh, uh, we're going to get into it. It's very, I'm liking this. This is it. It's a good theme. It's a great guest to really bring that theme together and uh, I know it's going to be an awesome one. Uh, shout out Earl, join in on the live what up? Welcome. Welcome. You guys know what it is. We even got pro players in the live answer your questions as well. So if you, if you guys aren't joining it on the live, you're missing out, you are really, really missing out. Um, let me see what we got here.
Quincy Amarikwa (05:36):
Let me see. Let me see. Okay. Making sure we got everything we've got going over there. Yeah, so a couple of points before we got in here. And especially in terms of the theme in terms of longevity and reinventing yourself. I definitely believe that has been a huge factor into my ability to, to now complete my 11th year as a, as an MLS pro. Um, I definitely know, uh, many of the individuals who are with me in the beginning or might've known me at the beginning of my career back when I joined, uh, San Jose earthquakes in 2009 might not have thought I would have made it this long or this far. And a big reason that I was able to do that is not only because of the MSL mindset that we talked about here and breakdown in the philosophy and the idea, but more so the general understanding that reinventing yourself is necessary to progress, learn and move forward. Shout out Seitz,
Quincy Amarikwa (06:36):
Quincy Amarikwa (06:38):
And a current DC United goalkeeper joining in on the live. Thanks for stopping in. Let me see what we got here. Uh, but yeah, really just talking about reinventing yourself and what it takes to do that. Um, it's important. And what really comes down is to the mentality, the mentality that you're taking. Oh, there we go. And sir has, uh, Alexi has joined in on the live Alexi. I will call you in here in just a moment, so we'll get you going. Um, yeah, everyone's, there we go. Everyone's getting excited. So, uh, when I, when I get you called in right here, first I'd just like to bring on and introduce today's guest. He's had a very long successful career in soccer, but not only was he a successful player, he then went on to reinvent himself first as a general manager and president. And then as an analyst, commentator and industry personality. I'd like to welcome,
Quincy Amarikwa (07:42):
I just sent you the request so you should be good to go. And we got them connected. There we go.
Alexi Lalas (07:51):
Hey there. How are you doing?
Quincy Amarikwa (07:52):
I'm doing well. How are you doing brother?
Alexi Lalas (07:54):
I'm good, I'm good. I'm just walking around me, uh, dressing rooms here at Fox, uh, where I work. So, you know, for example, if anybody watches Fox for example, you might know Skip Bayless, that's his, a lock or a dressing room right there. And let's see who else we can find over here. Uh, Rachel Beneta, Jenny Taft, you might see there her, uh, both of them. Kate Abdo, who, you know, uh, for boxing and obviously from soccer. So we've got all sorts of people, uh, all over here. So yeah. How are you doing?
Quincy Amarikwa (08:24):
I'm doing well. Um, you know I'm not at the Fox headquarters like you right now. Shout out Rachel. I knew Rachel back it.
Quincy Amarikwa (08:31):
Uh, I played for TFC.
Alexi Lalas (08:33):
Quincy Amarikwa (08:33):
So when you see her, let her know. Quincy said hello.
Alexi Lalas (08:36):
I will. I will. You know who's down here? Stu Holden, I think I just saw here were uh, Oh look, it's John Strong. So I had a Quincy is this interview you fake to get out Quincy and was going live here? Yeah, we're going live. You like that? Good. Say what up brother? How you doing? I just take my makeup off. Oh, beautiful. With it on and off, it looks so pretty all the time. Oh, it's, it's amazing. I love excuse. You should see how tight his clothing is. I mean, it's just ridiculous. You really need to see it. That John Strong, the legend. John Strong. Still one of my favorite goals. The goal you scored from like 45 yards out against Portland.
Quincy Amarikwa (09:11):
Thank you very much. I'm going to call that.
Alexi Lalas (09:13):
That was, I remember, it was incredible man. He's the man. All right guys, I'll see you over there.
Quincy Amarikwa (09:18):
Yeah, see I knew, I knew you were paying attention to me for one, so I had to do something that, that could catch your attention.
Alexi Lalas (09:25):
Oh man. How are you? Good.
Quincy Amarikwa (09:28):
Yeah, I'm doing really well. Um, you know, a free agency here, so I make the most of it and make sure I keep myself occupied with planning for post-career, hoping it doesn't come for quite some time.
Alexi Lalas (09:42):
Yeah. Well, you know what, uh, I, I over the years, uh, cause I'm one of the old guys now. Uh, it's amazing. I turned, I turned 50 this year. I'm incredibly proud of it that I've made it this far. And, you know, over the years I've, I've talked to different folks like yourself and others that have come to the end, are seeing the end or, uh, you know, or just go around that corner to the, to the end.
Alexi Lalas (10:02):
And I tell you that your life really begins once your career is over with. And while a career might be incredibly important and even at times defining, um, the, the rest of your life is important also to live. And you may find things, uh, in your life, you individually and others that can excite you as much. You'll never be able to replicate what, what happens on the field. And that's kind of what sports is. It's that brief shining moment and it's a, it's a feeling unlike anything else. But you may be able to find things that excite you, uh, and bring you joy and that you have a passion for maybe even more so as you go along. Because while, while, while a career is an important part of a life, uh, it's still hopefully a small part of a life. Hopefully you're gonna live a long, healthy life, my friend.
Alexi Lalas (10:46):
And you're going to be doing a lot of other things in life. So, uh, I, I tell everybody a fear, not a, this is where your true life begins.
Quincy Amarikwa (10:54):
I like, I like that cause today's theme of the show is career longevity and reinventing yourself. Right? And what you kind of mentioned there is your career will carry on well beyond your soccer playing career. And you obviously had a very prolific soccer career. And I know you call yourself an old head, uh, which depending on the individual who's watching, they might think you're old. And then some of our older audiences, Hey, come on, relax. They're a little bit, we're not, we're not dead yet.
Alexi Lalas (11:21):
Loved the show but the lag tonight was a bummer. Would love to know how Alexi balanced his reffing "costume" with being a sports personality. I agree being a great player doesn't mean you'll be great elsewhere & you have to keep trying. Hoping to catch the replay.— Andrew K (@SciDocK) February 21, 2020
Quincy Amarikwa (11:23):
Uh, what do you think, what do you believe is the largest contributing factor to your ability to reinvent yourself, the way in which you have?
Alexi Lalas (11:34):
I've always believed that I was a part of the, uh, in the entertainment industry, uh, even as a player.
Alexi Lalas (11:40):
And I think sometimes when you say that people, uh, cringe and they somehow take that as you, you don't take what you do seriously. Um, or that you can't be competitive. And that's not the case at all though. You know, the fact is I loved as a player, I loved the pageantry. I loved the performance. I loved the character. I loved the costume. Uh, and I loved, you know, ultimately getting that feedback and look, you, uh, you, you, you as somebody who at times has played the villain, even that, you know, I, I would, I don't care as long as people are reacting otherwise we'll just go do it on a Sunday morning with nobody watching. I want people to watch. It is a performance and like, once again, it doesn't mean that you can't be passionate. It doesn't mean you can't be competitive and want to win.
Alexi Lalas (12:23):
And I've carried that through and obviously I, I, I've found something that gives me the opportunity to still stay in the game. Like I said, I'm turning 50, and then I can still make a living in this game without even kicking a ball in 2020 in the United States. I'm very proud of that and it's going to be even better for you and other players coming along and other opportunities and whether it's in, in broadcasting or television or, or social or, or, uh, or front offices, uh, or, or by the way, even if it has nothing to do with soccer, the time that you spend being a player and the lessons that you learned, the experiences that you go through, they can, they can be beneficial. So all of those things, uh, you know, have contributed I think to whatever success I have had. But I also recognize that I don't have all the answers. I made plenty of mistakes on and off the field. I went into the front office after I was done playing and I was really young. I made a lot of mistakes, but I had great experiences and all of those have led to this version that you see right now. And by the way, I'll let you in on a little secret. This version makes plenty of mistakes too.
Quincy Amarikwa (13:19):
I got you. No, I like that. Okay. So there's a lot there. And I, and I like, I like the direction this is going because I know the fans and followers who are listening right now in the live and also the replay are going to get a lot of value out of this. Um, but what is it that you're, so you said you, you, you made a lot of mistakes when you first transitioned into the front office and, um, but before you got there, you recognize that you're playing a character and the game is about the show and, uh, engaging people and getting them to want to pay attention. Um, most people don't have the understanding of how to deal with and almost encourage negative attention. You'd mentioned, you know, people kind of cringe when you said what you say, um, what do you feel is the difference or more, more importantly, why do you believe that most individuals who are in decision making roles or positions, let's say coaches, general managers and stuff like that, don't understand that? And why don't they seek those players out?
Alexi Lalas (14:23):
See, I mean, so you, you bring up a good thing because oftentimes we talk about what can be done to foster the next generation. What are some best practices, if you will. And you know, I always encouraged whether I was a player or whether it went when I was in the front offices. I encouraged players to uh, you know, to interact with the media, to show their personality. And by the way, that doesn't mean that everybody has to be wild. And that doesn't mean everybody has to be Zlatan. That doesn't mean that everybody has to always have a witty to say. But you know, in our business you can anticipate when the media is going to be around, you can formulate and craft what you are going to say. You know, what resonates and you know, what doesn't resonate and look, some people are more comfortable than others in front of cameras and with microphones.
Alexi Lalas (15:08):
And so I don't want to put people in positions where they aren't comfortable. But the other part of is is, is yes it is entertainment and yes, it is showing your we are trying in soccer and whether it's us talking here or whether it's the games that are going on, we are trying to get as many people in the tent as possible. We are trying to make as much noise as possible. We not being clowns but making noise and being interesting and having people that maybe wouldn't see soccer say, you know what, I'm going to give that a try. And it might be because they like the way this person talks and this way, like the way this person acts or the way this person looks, all of that kind of stuff. And I think at times we, we damp in it, uh, or we discourage it when I think we do at times have to recognize that this is something that can be fostered and something that can be encouraged with the right type of direction.
Alexi Lalas (15:57):
Uh, and with the right kind of some kind of support behind it. And we don't, I don't think we do it enough. And I think we're worried and I get why we're worried about making something that isn't authentic or making something that isn't, uh, isn't real or traditional. And that comes from a history where it's kind of been right down the middle and stuff, you know, uh, you know, really look at any sport. We love our big personalities. And it doesn't matter how long a sport's been around when somebody's big, bold and arrogant. Now you do use that word on purpose. Arrogant comes along. That's something I want to watch, even if I don't know a whole lot about that sport.
Quincy Amarikwa (16:34):
That's true, but, okay. But that's a different type of understanding in a bigger picture sense. Right? And when you're in a front office or you're in a role where you're building a team or putting a team together and you don't have that understanding, what with having the experience that you did as on the other side and in a general management, what are the assumptions that you made that led to you making mistakes that, uh, uh, let's you making mistakes at that point in time?
Alexi Lalas (17:05):
So I, I tried to be something I'm not and that look that goes for anything in life and you kind of sometimes have to go through that to then make those mistakes to realize them. I try, I had a vision or an idea of what somebody in the front office should be and it was based on the history and what I had seen. And so I tried to fit myself and who I was into that shape and form and it was a, it was a poor fit because ultimately I wasn't doing the job as myself and, and look, uh, you know very well that there is a, a desire at times to keep very separate the competitive side with the business side in front offices and look, sometimes that's good because you want to be focused on what your job is, which is performing on the field, but also having a recognition and an understanding of what the job is of the men and women work each and every day in the front office.
Alexi Lalas (18:01):
You've got to have a respect and there has to be a mutual respect between the two and sometimes that balance is off. But as players we have an idea of what a general manager or a president or somebody in the front office should look like, should talk, like should act like. And I tried to be that person too often as opposed to trusting who I was with all the experiences they had. The unique experiences. And by the way, it doesn't mean you do. It doesn't mean you can't evolve. It doesn't mean you can't grow and mature and the things that you do. But I look back and you know some of the ways, some of the way that I acted in the things that I did, I would do differently because I was trying to be someone that I wasn't and I was young too.
Quincy Amarikwa (18:38):
Okay. So then let's talk about the person you tried to be general management and compare him to the person you were on the field lead. The person you were on the field was a representation of who you were or was that [inaudible] in comparison? How is that different than the person you tried to portray?
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Alexi Lalas (18:58):
So the person, the person on the field, uh, was a, a personality and a created caricature. Um, you know, and, and that, that applied to the way that I looked, the way that I talked, I, I, it was, you know, I grew up in, I grew up in the 80s and I patterned a lot of what I did from a sports perspective on music and the way that, uh, especially in the 80s, the image and the brand and the way that you promoted yourself and the way that you look, the way that you talked, it was a real part of it, as much as the music was.
Alexi Lalas (19:28):
And so I, I did that in a sense. And so when I, when I stopped playing, um, I recognized that I had to kind of shift a little bit and literally shift the way that I looked, the way that I, the way that I talk, the way that I acted, um, and once again to try to conform to what I thought was this is what somebody should be. And the way that I started answering questions was different. I didn't look, you're going to get a little bit more savvy and a little bit more politically correct. I guess it would be or you know, just, just a little more nuanced in the way that you'd do it because it's not the same oftentimes as, and you know, there's sometimes you'll see a, someone, an athlete and they'll be really good in front of the camera and you'll say, well, that guy's going to be great in television.
Alexi Lalas (20:17):
It doesn't quite work that way. Okay. Answering a question in a setting where you are a player, uh, is very, very different than talking about the game and doing the things that the, for example, I am privileged to do, uh, each and every day. And so, you know, I put on that suit and I played that part, but I played that part in a way that I wasn't comfortable when I was a player. The part that I was playing, it was incredibly comfortable. It fit, uh, that costume that I was wearing. It fit like a glove and it was an extension of who I was when I was in the front office. I think I played a part that at my core I didn't have a touchstone. It didn't, I didn't relate to it as much as I did and other things.
Quincy Amarikwa (20:57):
Gotcha. Okay. So it sounds like you got both perspectives and experiences you would need, being who you are, having a character and aligning and fitting that character and then playing a character that you didn't recognize you didn't like or you didn't want to be any longer. So now you at least have the spectrum that you can now navigate where you can find balance. I talk a lot on this show that it's not about finding balance, it's about finding the extremes. Because if you don't know where the extremes are, you can never go on balance. So, uh, just from, from you sharing that, it sounds like that gave you the opportunity to kind of widen what your comfort zone is and understand who you could be versus who you don't want to be when, when now you make the transition out from a management and you, you go into broadcasting, you go into, I believe it was you started with ESPN first. Yep. Yep. Um, what was it that you had made the decision on when making that jump that you would know you, you would not allow yourself to do again or anymore?
Alexi Lalas (22:09):
So a mistake that I made is what you're saying?
Quincy Amarikwa (22:12):
So more so like, um, if you're playing a character, a role, that's what people see you as and that's who they believe in to be. Right? If you now decided you're no longer that person, it's a diff, it's a distance of tie between their ability to see who you actually are or wiling to see that. Right? So some people will choose to never see you for who you are. They'll only see you for who you were. So understanding that you now know who you choose to be. So what is the thing that you've decided you will no longer allow yourself to do because of what being what you didn't want to be created for you? Yeah.
Alexi Lalas (22:51):
You know, I think that the, the persona that I inhabit now on television is a much more direct line to who I am. Um, you know, I, I, I try to cut through the BS. Uh, I know that at times the things that I do and the things that I started that th the things that I say in the way that I say that at times are irritating. Um, I grew up in a household that was full of debate and you had to defend, uh, your side. I love debating things. I love taking different sides. I recognize that at times I can be a, a, a pest and an irritant. And the things that I do, I recognize at times, uh, I, I may do things to get arise, but at no point am I doing things or saying things that I don't believe in.
Alexi Lalas (23:42):
And so I think in that sense there's a real honesty and an authenticity that maybe for the first time in this character, in this version of me, people are seeing, but look, let's be honest, we're, we're having a performance right now. Okay. We, the only time that anybody's ever going to see who I truly am or who you truly are is in the middle of the night when we are at our most vulnerable and at our most honest, and you wake somebody up and that's when they're answering the questions and that's when you really see who they are. You're never going to see that. And I choose not to let anybody, anybody see that. And so maybe in a certain sense I am playing a part and therefore you're not getting the full, not that anybody wants to get the full version of me, but, uh, but in that sense, um, but I, but I do think I'm much closer to the truest sense and the truest version of me than maybe I have been in the past. And maybe that just comes with time.
Quincy Amarikwa (24:36):
Gotcha. What do you think encourages or incentivizes someone to do to be more authentic to who they are and share that with others?
Alexi Lalas (24:47):
I think you got to let it go. You have to recognize that you're never going to please everyone. And as soon as you stop trying to, I think you become much more genuine and authentic. Uh, I think that look at its core and maybe, uh, uh, a psychologist out there, a shrink cut out there could figure this out. Uh, there is a kind of a, a punk ethos that I have embraced in that I, uh, as I, as I said before, I don't care. All I care about is that there is a reaction. I had just as much fun and enjoyed it just as much. When 100,000 people were booing at me and throwing stuff at me, then 100,000 people were cheering. It really didn't matter. But what I didn't want them is not to care and not to have a reaction. And I think you have to have that kind of ethos of, of uh, uh, of accepting the fact that people are going to say things about you.
Alexi Lalas (25:35):
People are going to like you, not like you, uh, any, anywhere in between. But you know, I don't think our game in particular has enough authenticity. And by the way, this doesn't mean just saying stuff to piss people off just to piss people off or just saying outrageous stuff just to say outrageous stuff. When I say something, it's because this is how I feel. And maybe in the past I would have shaded it or maybe in the past I would have been scared to say these different things. And I'm telling you, I'm still not even to the point that I, that I want to be, but I'm, I'm, I'm much further along.
Quincy Amarikwa (26:06):
Gotcha. Okay. Something that you said that kind of stuck out to me as you said, I'm saying things I believe in, which I think is a, is a, is a great place to start with, with, with anything speaking, speaking.
Alexi Lalas (26:20):
Quincy Amarikwa (26:20):
Speaking from any perspective, from any individual. But we also, and I talked a lot about this on the show, like we also don't know what we don't know. Right? So you can believe something to be true right now. So what is your process for determining that you believe something?
>Alexi Lalas (26:39):
Uh, well if I have a some, for example, if like I am in the opinion business, um, you can call them hot takes, you can talk, call them whatever you want. But you know, I am asked to give my opinion about something. I'm not asked to give an opinion that, that people want or enjoy necessarily just to give my opinion and then let the chips fall where they met. So when I have a reaction to something cause I don't react, sometimes there's a, there's a topic that just, I don't have either. I don't have a reaction to it or the opinion that I have. I can at least be self aware enough to say, you know what, it's really not that interesting and opinion. And if I don't find it interesting, then I don't, I'm not sure anybody else is gonna find it interesting. But when I have that, that that gut reaction to something, then you know I run it through my filter and my brain to try to flush it out and you know, self editing and doing all that kind of stuff is, is huge.
Alexi Lalas (27:34):
Not just for television but I think in life, being able to articulate things and do it in a clear and concise and efficient manner I think is important. And you know, I spit it out there in the world. Sometimes it resonates some, sometimes it doesn't, but at its core, because people ask me all the time, do you really believe the things that you're saying? Yeah I do. I'm not, I'm not just saying something and I wouldn't just say something just to just to say something because I know it's going to piss you off or just to say something because it's the opposite of a, of what you said. But I will never apologize for being able to think about things in different ways and come at things from different angles and at least attempt to put myself in a side or in the shoes of somebody on a completely different side of the, uh, the subject. And then that's where I formulate my opinion.
Quincy Amarikwa (28:20):
Quincy Amarikwa (28:24):
You know, I'm thinking through, I'm thinking through that from, from the stance of being an individual who has been embraced for their personality. Right. And been able to use that as a catalyst to kind of continually create new opportunities for yourself and have different doors open for you. Especially when you're explaining to the fact that just because you know, you're in a world cup or you can speak well in answering a question, it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to make a great general manager. It doesn't mean that you're going to be a great coach or you're a great player. It doesn't mean you're gonna be able to bring us together, be a great coach. What do you think it will take or what has to change to, to make the system one that actually puts in place individuals who are qualified to do so and by qualified I don't, I don't mean qualified based on the qualifications of you're a good player. So you're a good coach. You are the captain. So you're the general manager. Uh, what, how would you go about changing that? What would you do?
Alexi Lalas (29:32):
Well, first off, you have to recognize the reality of life. You know, one of the reasons why I am talking to you right here is because of the summer of 1990, I lived and breathed the power of what a World Cup can do to an individual. It changed my life forever. It opened up doors. It doesn't, it doesn't make you mean that those doors stayed open forever. But they opened up and it was up to me to recognize those opportunities, recognize those doors and step and step through them. You and I both know that people that have played the game and have had some sort of success in the game are going to be given opportunities that others might not get. Life isn't fair and soccer isn't failing you and you, you play the hand that you're dealt and you use the opportunities, uh, you use the opportunities that are there.
Alexi Lalas (30:13):
But I tell, you know, look, I now as a, as an older guy in this business, there's plenty of young people that are coming along and, you know, they want my job and that's good. That's good competition. They can pry it from my cold dead hands, but you know, they're, they're coming along and that's, you know, that's a good thing. They shouldn't, they should want to, uh, to take my job and, and take other's job. That's, I have no, I have no problem with that. You know, as you mentioned, you know, who should get those opportunities. I don't know. I'm not the ones making those, making those decisions. There will be times where it's going to be fair and there will be times where it's not going to be fair. There going to be times where you're going to seize upon an opportunity in the same way that we seized upon opportunities at times when the guy that was starting in front of us that hurt, okay, it's not his fault, it's just it happened.
Alexi Lalas (30:59):
He got hurt and we took an opportunity or a coach got, uh, got fired and the new coach came in and said, you know, you're my guy now. Okay, well a week ago I wasn't the guy, but now I'm the guy. So things happen. I would love to be able to say that it's completely fair and it's completely perfect and it's completely, uh, it's completely consistent. But, uh, but it's not, having said that, there's a whole lot more opportunities now than there ever was in the game of soccer after you have stopped playing. And that's a good, and it's just going to be more and more as more and more teams, as you know, our culture changes as the soccer culture continues to grow and not just specific jobs in soccer, but it's as the tentacles of soccer continued to, uh, to, uh, to go out.
Alexi Lalas (31:42):
There's going to be more and more opportunities for people to be involved in soccer, either directly or tangentially involved in soccer. And that's, that's a good thing. But it's still going to be about, you know, what timing, timing in life is important. It's going to be about time, the people that you know, and that, that's, that's just me giving you the, you know, the, uh, the reality of life. And ultimately it's like a lot of things though, if you don't have that hard work, if you don't have that work ethic, and I've seen it time and time again where people will come through my industry of broadcasting and they're using it as a way station until something comes up, comes better, comes along, happens in all sports, we see it all the time. You can get away with that for a little bit, but ultimately that will manifest itself in your performance and you're cheating yourself and you're cheating the viewer.
Alexi Lalas (32:28):
And the best ones are the ones that want to be there that are junkies for it. And I am a junkie for what I do. I love what I do. I'm incredibly fortunate to be able to do it. And those are the ones that do it day in, day out. And when you start to work with people, you see the work that goes in to making it look easy. I'm still not there yet. Like I said, I make plenty of mistakes and I still got a long way to go. But this is something that I love to do because people ask me all the time, would you like to be doing something else? No, I love what I do and I want to keep doing.
Quincy Amarikwa (32:55):
No, that's good. And so here we talk about the MSL, right? I know I play MLS, major league soccer, but the way in which I was able to survive in this game for now, 11 years and hopefully 11 more is a, the game I developed a made up for myself called the MSL.
Speaker 3 (33:13):
And it was a short, simple way. I can say it to myself, MSL, mental strength league, right? Uh, adapt or die, no excuses. Even though there is no opportunity here, that doesn't mean I'm going to stop the work that I'm doing. Because if an opportunity comes similar to what you'd said, if this guy gets injured, if this coach gets fired, if something that's out of my control happens, I will not not be ready. If there is an opportunity that comes my way and if no doors are open, we will figure out how to build a door. And if we don't know that a door exists, we will do the research to figure out what everybody else knows that we don't know.
Alexi Lalas (33:49):
Right. I mean, look, you're talking about being proactive. You're talking about, you know, we, we, we, we grow up in sports. So we talk about, you know, Psycho-Cybernetics and you know, uh, positive thinking and the mentality like you talk about, you know, this is, this is good.
Alexi Lalas (34:02):
One of the reasons why I agreed and wanting to come on is because, you know, I feel that, that, that I have a responsibility and that I want to help people that are helping themselves, that are doing things and are being proactive. You're not sitting on your ass, okay, you're actually doing something that you recognize is takes work. It may take time, but ultimately it's going to make you a better person and it's going to make you potentially have more opportunities down the line. And that's, that's a good thing. That's something worth celebrating. And so I, I commend you for doing that because as you know, not everybody does that. There's a lot of players. Sometimes they just say, well, I'm done playing and this door should be open or I should be given this, you know, one, you know, once you stop kicking that ball, uh, people look at you very, very differently and you better have something else to offer.
Alexi Lalas (34:48):
And that's why when we talk about, you know, education and we talk about creating better soccer players, it pains me and it worries me at times that we're so focused on creating better soccer players, that we're losing sight of the fact that we also have, I think, a responsibility to help create better, better Americans, in this case, a better human beings ultimately in the tools that we give them to survive for beyond just that 90 minutes when they're playing in the game.
Quincy Amarikwa (35:17):
Well, okay, so that's a good transition because then my question is for you would, uh, would transition into you, what does it mean to be an American? Right. And how has our view of, uh, trying to, uh, entice international players over the course of these last decade,
Quincy Amarikwa (35:39):
at least since I've been in the league. How do you feel that has helped, but it has hurt the development of those players kind of too, to the point that you're, you're discussing that?
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...I commend you for doing that because as you know, not everybody does that... @alexi_lalas tells @quincyamarikwa why he feels a responsibility to pay it forward in the world of American soccer. Listen to his reasons why he believes in doing this in this clip! Have you benefited from someone paying it forward, or have you paid it forward yourself? #ATLUTD #cf97 #Rapids96 #CrewSC #DCU #ForeverOrange #lafc #LAGalaxy #MNUFC #IMFC #NERevs #ForTheCity #RBNY #FaceOfCity#DOOP #RCTID #Quakes74 #Sounders #ForGloryForCity #TFCLive #HereWeCome
Alexi Lalas (35:48):
You know, I think it's, it's when you talk about American soccer, that's one thing when you talk about Major League Soccer that obviously we've been a part of for a long time and, and, and I was there at the start and Major League Soccer has changed a tremendous amount. I am, uh, you know, once again, uh, this is, you know, don't kill the messenger, but Major League Soccer is a business as, as you know, full well all right. And owners of that business, I believe, should be given the right to do whatever they feel is appropriate for their business, either in market or collectively. Cause we know it's a single entity and the collective is important. And so if, if an MLS team wants to field all players that are international, uh, and not have any players that are domestic, fine. If that's what they want to do, that's fine.
Alexi Lalas (36:31):
Uh, so you know, and, and that gets into a debate on how much responsibility or any responsibility does MLS have to the domestic player and that pathway and providing that pathway and showing, you know, if you want to be the league of choice, well who's that choice for young players that are coming up and are emulating the Quincy Amarikwas and, and are willing to watch you or watching these teams in other places. If they don't see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, if they don't see that there is a pathway, then that that could be a problem for them. I don't know if it's a problem for major league soccer as a business, at which point a lot of these players are going to have to look elsewhere and it will be very, very interesting to see as MLS goes on.
Speaker 3 (37:14):
And this isn't a discount the, you know, the developmental system that they have and the work that they have in me. Okay. You know, Tyler Adams and these types of players that have used MLS to, to bigger and better things or players that have just continued on him and MLS. But as you know, it's changed a whole lot and that pathway sometimes gets, gets a little skewed and that pathway gets a little confused at times when you were looking what MLS is in 2020 as opposed to what it is when I started or even 10, 15 years after that.
Quincy Amarikwa (37:44):
Um, I, I, I understand, I'm impressed. Obviously, uh, you, you definitely have the ability to navigate answering the question in such a matter that is taking into account all parties without trying to throw anybody under the bus. But I would expect nothing less for a broadcaster with Fox. Right. Which is, which is great.
Alexi Lalas (38:07):
Well, what do you want? You want MLS just to, just to, you know, you want quotas, you want, uh, restrictions on how many players, uh, international players that you could have or mandatory. You have to have this many domestic players playing in it.
Quincy Amarikwa (38:19):
Well, I'd like, I'd like to see the MLS, uh, do for their domestic, uh, league the same way in which it is difficult for American players to go to other markets and to play in other countries. There's, there's a level of, there's a certain level that I have to maintain or be at in order to go play overseas. And I understand, I understand that. Um, and there's, there's nothing wrong with that, but I, I feel we're greatly undervaluing the value of the American player because there isn't a fair international market for American players. So we're, we're, because of the single entity structure, you can grossly underpay the American player, especially definitely in the past, right. You can grossly under the pay the a, the American player because, you know, they don't have, they don't have the options and they have, uh, they have a love and desire for, for this league. Right. And then you're using the money you're saving on them to invest in guys who have much shorter a view of the league and what it is for them and the opportunities that this, it's affording and providing for them.