So, With Beckham Leaving, Will Alexi Lalas Admit That Soccer Didn’t “Pick Off” Hockey?


MLS Executive Alexi Lalas

MLS Executive Alexi Lalas

We swear we liked Alexi Lalas at one point.  He was traded to the MetroStars when we were in our very early teens, at the peak of our soccer-loving period (Seriously, it was 1A. with hockey at 1).  But at some point, he just became a dink, to use a Milbury-ism (too soon?).  Never any more so than when he gave the prediction that soccer was going to pass hockey on the American sports landscape with the arrival of David Beckham to the LA Galaxy, as he told The Globe and Mail via Fanhouse:

With Beckham’s handsome face to market, with a broad participatory base and with an ever-expanding soccer-mad Hispanic community in the United States now roughly equivalent to the population of Canada, soccer has a leg up on at least one other exotic game struggling to gain a foothold in much the American market – a game that once tried dropping its own golden boy into Hollywood for a time.

“I think that we can – and I say this with all due respect for Canada, which may be the only the only place where I’ll get a major argument – pick off hockey here, and then we’ll move on to the next major-league sport,” Lalas said. “We can start picking them off one by one.”

It was a worthwhile, if fleeting and ultimately stupid, conversation to have.  Beckham was a name that even the normal American knew, a la Gretzky.  There was considerable buzz, but there’s simply not enough ingrained interest in American markets to give MLS a chance to pass on the NHL in the forseeable future.  We live in one of the soccer meccas of America – North Jersey – and trust us, no one cares about the MetroBulls (do visit, however).  We love soccer, but MLS is a totally different animal.

We did experience the Beckham “phenomenon” first hand.  It was this Summer at Giants Stadium, to perhaps 50-60,000 as the Red Bulls drew the Galaxy.  That’s a far cry from the stories our mom often tells us about seeing the NASL’s New York Cosmos as seeing 80,000 in those same stands.  THAT was soccer’s chance.  They missed it, it isn’t coming around again.

But the argument is moot at this point, because now it appears that Beckham has tired of the States.  Ready to go back to Landon Donovan being you’re biggest cross-over star, MLS?  Welcome back to the back of the pack, as if you ever had more of a sniff at the front.

One Response to So, With Beckham Leaving, Will Alexi Lalas Admit That Soccer Didn’t “Pick Off” Hockey?

  1. kevin says:

    Beckham was such a non story no matter how much ESPN tried to hype it. He is probably the most overrated athlete on the planet and proved it with LA. He didn’t even play because soccer is such a demanding sport….sigh……At least Gretzky had obvious talent that the novice fan could recognize. You would have to watch soccer for 20 years before you could determine that Beckham was at least a pretty good player. Easily the biggest flop in recent sports history although I bet 75% of the population didn’t even know he was here….

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