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Barcelona's U.S. tour will conclude with match against Red Bulls.

FC Dallas' Ruiz is out for 2-3 weeks with hamstring strain.

O'Brien comes home; versatile player signs with Chivas USA.

MLS preview: Twelve teams start pursuit with single goal in mind.

Fight injury delays Franchino from taking Costa Rica flight with Revs.

Red Bull reportedly pays over $100 million for MetroStars package.

Galaxy GM, president Doug Hamilton dies on flight home.

Houston discards 1836 moniker and becomes Dynamo; MetroStars sale nears

D.C. United chief denies Nowak directed racial remark at opponent.

Dallas re-signs Ruiz to lucrative contract; MetroStars get Arvizu.

D.C. United, MLS deny any talks to send Adu to Chelsea.

FC Dallas signs Cooper; San Jose expansion hopes are dealt blow.

All 12 teams start preseason training.

MLS Cup returns to Pizza Hut Park in November.

Chivas USA acquires Razov from MetroStars, trading away Martins.

Major League Soccer

Lalas resigns as Red Bulls GM, returns to AEG in Los Angeles.

Alexi Lalas
Alexi Lalas was smiling when when Red Bull New York bought the Metrostars on March 9. His return to the Anschutz Entertainment Group was rumored since then.
-- New York Red Bulls web site photo by Ernesto Motta --
By Gary Davidson
SoccerTimes

(Monday, April 17, 2006) -- Alexi Lalas' whirlwind tour of Major League Soccer front offices continued today when he left the New York Red Bulls to become president and general manager of the MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy.

Five days after saying he had no plans to leave the New Jersey-based club, Lalas, 35, resigned to become head of a third MLS club in 27 months. He returned to Anschutz Entertainment Group, which gave him his first front office job when he was named president and general manager of the San Jose Earthquakes on January 27, 2004.

"The fact is things change and situations change," Lalas said in a conference call this morning. "This is obviously a wonderful opportunity and also a heck of a challenge. . . This has been a tremendous ride over the last couple years. And it's given me a wonderful perspective of a game I though I knew very, very well."

Lalas takes over the Galaxy, a team coming off a year in which it added the 2005 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup crown to its MLS championship. He replaces the acclaimed Doug Hamilton, who tragically died March 9 of a heart attack at age 43 on a Galaxy team flight, the same day the MetroStars were sold to Red Bull Company Limited.

"In fact, when we started the search, at the end, Alexi was the only guy we felt comfortable with to continue the vision and the momentum Doug Hamilton had created for the franchise," AEG Sports president Shawn Hunter said, "Obviously, we're going to make sure this franchise competes for MLS Cup each and every year, and I think it is in very good hands with Alexi."

Red Bull, the Austrian company that produces the popular sugary, highly-caffeinated "energy" drink paid a reported $100 million for ownership of the club in MLS's single-entity structure, 50 percent ownership (with AEG owning the other half) of a proposed soccer-specific stadium in Harrison, N.J., planned to open for the 2008 season, plus naming rights to the venue.

"I truly believe Red Bull is going to do some wonderful things. The fans in New York deserve a successful team," said Lalas, whose hair is now neat, his facial hair gone. "It is bittersweet for me because, on one hand, (moving to the Galaxy) is a wonderful opportunity, but it's difficult to leave people I've grown close to and a team I believe is going to compete (for the title) this year."

With the MetroStars sold, AEG owns and operates four MLS franchises -- Los Angeles, Houston, the Chicago Fire and D.C. United. A $26-million sale of United to a group of real estate developers in Washington, D.C., fell through in January. The club remains on the block.

Lalas spent one season at the helm of the Earthquakes (now the Houston Dynamo) before moving within the AEG organization to become president and GM of the MetroStars for the 2005 campaign.

Lalas, who played for the U.S. in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, and also represented his country twice in the Summer Olympics, first gained notoriety more for his wild red hair, goatee and guitar strumming than for his scrappy play on defense. After becoming one of the first Americans to play in a top European League when he joined Padova in Italy's Serie A in 1994, Lalas signed to play with the New England Revolution in 1996, MLS's inaugural season.

After two seasons in New England, he played one year each with the MetroStars and Kansas City Wizards, before closing his MLS career with three seasons with the Galaxy. He started 163 of his 169 MLS games -- scoring 16 goals and adding 12 assists -- and was a member of the 2002 Galaxy MLS champion team. He also appeared 96 times and scored nine goals for the U.S. men.

Hamilton was a three-time winner of the MLS "Executive of the Year," award, twice with L.A. after starting with the now-defunct Miami Fusion. Under Hamilton, the Galaxy also won the MLS championship in 2002.

"I have to fill some incredibly big shoes of a gentleman who not only was a friend, but also is a legend in terms of this job and what he was able to accomplish in his time with the Galaxy is something I want to emulate," Lalas said. "Doug Hamilton, on and off the field, is everything I hope to be and hope to achieve. Having said that, he'd be the first person to tell you we can always improve and I aim to improve this team, on and off the field."

Tom Payne was appointed Galaxy assistant general manager April 7 and he is expected to continue in that role.

Lalas' new job offers several interesting dichotomies. The coach of the Galaxy is Steve Sampson, who led the U.S. into the 1998 World Cup. Lalas and several of his teammates ripped Sampson after the Americans lost all three group matches, limping to a last-place finish among 32 nations at France '98. Lalas never got into a game.

"I'd like to think I'm a better person," Lalas said. "I've grown up. I've learned a lot over the last eight years. There are things I look back on in my life that I could have done differently, and that is probably one of them.

"When you look across Major League Soccer, there's no coach who can boast (Sampson's) kind of success. He has the qualifications. He has my full support and I'm excited to work with him. We chuckled about the history between us. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but the fact is, we're looking toward the future."

Sharing The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., with the Galaxy is Chivas USA, coached by Bob Bradley who Lalas fired from the MetroStars with three games left in the 2005 regular season.

"We're not going to have a fight in the parking lot,'' Lalas said. "I have a lot of respect for Bob. Any problem we had in the past was based on expectations and what I thought needed to be done. Ultimately, you move on and don't dwell on the past. If you do, it will eat you up.''

Lalas replaced Bradley with Mo Johnston, who guided the MetroStars into the playoffs, but now finds his job in jeopardy with new management. "If there's a coaching change, then I'll go through the door and move on," Johnston told Associated Press. "There's nothing you can do about it. Uncertainty is not a good thing. If there's going to be a change, then don't wait. Do it now."

Red Bulls assistant general manager Chris Canetti will run the team until the new owners restructure the organization. Canetti told AP that there should be an announcement on these plans within the next week.

Gary Davidson is SoccerTimes publisher and managing editor.

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