Editor’s Note: We’ve had a few pieces lately that involved , specifically, Alexi Lalas and his time overseas in Serie A with Padova.
This piece by Eric Beard which acknowledges Alexi’s time at Padova and the focus in training. And this piece, Eric Giardini, which discusses the challenges for Americans playing in Serie A.
Thus we decided to reach out to the now-ESPN analyst and get his perspective on playing abroad. The following by….Alexi Lalas, with questions by Eric Giardini:
TSG: You joined Padova in 1994 during the height of Catenaccio that the great Milan teams of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s were using so successfully to win 3 European titles and 5 Scudettos. What was it like playing this defensive style of soccer and how did it differ from your duties with the USMNT?
Alexi Lalas: The defensive tactics of Italian soccer are well documented. And if you’re a club like Padova, who’s simply looking to stay up in Serie A, your reliance on defense is only amplified.
We were not going to be possessing the ball or dictating play against most teams. So we basically played in a 5-3-2. The player in the middle of the back 5 would often fall back like a sweeper and provide additional safety and another layer of cover. The outside backs only pushed forward on the counter.
But from the first day I arrived we trained on our defensive team shape, it was as important as stretching.
Weekend wrapping by TSG:
– Fuzzy math tells me that almost 80% of USMNT’ers that returned to their club did not dress or feature this weekend. One player note however. Michael Bradley who remained in the doghouse and on the bench for Borussia Moenchengladbach — can I get a nickname for that club from someone?
– Our weekend preview suggested that no one was living in Goochville, Milan. Now we can’t even find the neighborhood on the map just like Milan can’t find the victor sheet. Oneywu didn’t dress for Milan on Saturday and Milan only mustered a draw versus average joe Livorno. That being said, as our piece suggested a few weeks ago, look for Gooch to play–probably subbing–this Sunday against Bologna at home. Fox Soccer Channel has the game (man, they rock this year). If you don’t see the American CD’er, it may be awhile.
Van Persie: Not a fan of Adebayor's tap dance number
– Arsenal fans should be irate if Emmanuel Adebayor doesn’t get a heavy suspension for his purposeful cleat to the face of Robin Van Persie. If Eduardo gets an unsportsmanlike call and pending suspension for diving, you better believe that Adebayor should be roped to the bench for multiple games. His play was disgusting.
– Speaking of Adebayor and Manchester City, don’t look now but guess who’s been scored on the least in the EPL. That’s right, the Citizens of Manchester City. The team that was deemed all offense and no defense by pundits and fellow managers has two goals against in four league games. Perhaps Man City have the starting pitching to go all the way.
UPDATE: Support the petition to get Bill Simmons to the US qualifier against Costa Rica in RFK and sitting with the American Outlaws.
Simmons: This is the summer that I inexplicably fell for soccer. I can’t explain it. I don’t know why it happened now. I don’t know if it is like a mid-life crisis, but I have thrown myself into the US National Team and the English Premier League.
Lalas remains one of the most recognized faces in US soccer.
Lalas: You don’t have to explain it. It’s like…uh…love. You know, it just happens. You got to go with it.
And thus began a meandering, but interesting 58-minute conversation between ESPN’s Bill Simmons (aka The Sports Guy) and Alexi Lalas early this week as part of Simmons’ B.S. Report podcast.
Say what you want about his motivation for covering the sport or knowledge of the game, but the increasing coverage of soccer by Bill Simmons (aka The Sports Guy) can only be a good thing. This isn’t Simmons first foray into the world’s #1 game. A couple of years ago he wrote a two part piece about picking his EPL team—Tottenham Spurs. But, ultimately, Simmons lost interest.
Continue Reading for Highlights of the Conversation