Panayotis (Alexi) Lalas, former soccer star and later general manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy of the MLS, joined ESPN in January 2009 as a soccer studio analyst. Lalas provides analysis on ESPN’s coverage of Major League Soccer, U.S. Men’s National Team matches, and international soccer events such as the UEFA European Football Championship™, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Lalas, who made his ESPN FIFA World Cup debut in 2006, served as a studio analyst for the network’s critically acclaimed and award-winning coverage of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.
In June 2012, Lalas served as one of the lead studio analysts for ESPN’s unprecedented coverage of the UEFA European Football Championship. He was paired with former German National Team captain Michael Ballack in the studio, providing insightful analysis throughout the network’s record-setting coverage of the quadrennial European soccer tournament.
Known as one of the fiercest defenders in American soccer history, Lalas was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2006. Lalas retired from professional soccer in 2004 after a 10-year professional career that made him one of the first Americans to play in Italy’s Serie A – the ultra-competitive league. While playing for the Italian club Padova, Lalas was the team’s leader on defense and even netted a few goals. Padova were originally interested in Lalas as a result of his superb play in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Lalas was a fixture in the central defense for the U.S. National team during the 1994 World Cup in the United States, playing all 90 minutes of each of the four U.S. games and earning an honorable mention as an All-Star.
With national team and European soccer experience under his belt, Lalas made a smooth transition to the MLS in the league’s 1996 inaugural season. Lalas played for the New England Revolution (1996-97), the New York MetroStars (1998), and the Kansas City Wizards (1999). In 2000, Lalas took time off from the soccer pitch to be a soccer announcer for NBC during their coverage of 2000 Olympics from Sydney, Australia. Lalas was also a host on ESPN2’s MLS Extratime. Lalas made his return to the MLS in 2001 when he joined the Los Angeles Galaxy (2001-04). In 2002, Lalas and the Los Angeles Galaxy won their first MLS Cup.
After retiring from professional soccer as a player, Lalas was appointed the general manager for the San Jose Earthquake. In 2005, Lalas served in the same role of the New York MetroStars and helped orchestrate a smooth transition for the team as it was being purchased by Red Bull. In April 2006, Lalas resigned from his post with the New York Red Bull to take over as president and general manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy. He was at the helm in 2007 when the Galaxy acquired former England’s national team captain and international star David Beckham from the Spain’s Real Madrid FC – one of the pivotal signings that spurred the upward trajectory of the team and Major League Soccer as an emerging league in international soccer. Lalas was relieved of his duties in August 2008.
Lalas attended Rutgers University, and while there was honored with the Hermann Trophy and the Missouri Athletic Club Award as the top Division I college soccer player. In May 2014, 26-plus years after he arrived at Rutgers University, Lalas completed his course requirements and earned a degree in English with a minor in music.