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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 19, 2007

Lalas: MLS players 'wouldn't miss a beat'

LONDON -- Alexi Lalas helped humiliate English soccer 14 years ago. It looks like he's trying to do it again.

The Los Angeles Galaxy president, who scored when the United States beat England 2-0 in a friendly in 1993, told British newspapers that Major League Soccer is on a par with the Premier League.

SportsNation Sounds Off
"Alexi Lalas is going to kill American soccer ... to compare the MLS to the EPL is like saying there is no difference between college and pro BASEBALL." -- Ryan, Solon, Ohio

"I think that MLS teams could compete in the Premier League. They certainly wouldn't be on par with teams like Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool or Arsenal. But I could see them beating West Ham or Fulham." -- Ben, Oklahoma City

Chime in, SportsNation!

Irked by suggestions that David Beckham is going into semiretirement by joining the Galaxy, Lalas said the only reason the English league is popular is because of American-style marketing.

"The fact that a segment of the world worships an inferior product in the Premiership is their business,'' Lalas said in an interview with The Guardian published Tuesday.

"In England, our league is considered second class, but I honestly believe if you took a helicopter and grabbed a bunch of MLS players and took them to the perceived best league in the world they wouldn't miss a beat and the fans wouldn't notice any drop in quality.''

Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey are among the American players in the Premier League, although they play for modest Fulham. None of the American players in England are stars of the caliber of those at teams such as Manchester United and Chelsea.

MLS or Premiership? Tale Of The Tape
Alexi Lalas says MLS has comparable talent to England's Premier League. Here's a quick comparison of the two:
Founded 1888
(Premier League est. 1992)
1996
(RIP, NASL 1968-1984)
Current Champs Manchester United Houston Dynamo
Fan Base National obsession with game England invented "You're a fan ... you just don't know it yet."
World Cup '06 Quarterfinal loss to Portugal in penalty kick shootout; Becks emotes on field Two lousy goals; Eric Wynalda apoplectic in studio
One Shining Moment Manchester Utd. wins treble, 1998-99 Cosmos pack Giants Stadium, late '70s
National Pride England wins 1966 World Cup U.S. stuns England in 1950 World Cup
McBride -- the third highest scorer in U.S. national team history with 30 goals -- scored nine times last season for Fulham, which finished 16th in the Premier League. His tally was 12 short of Didier Drogba's league-high 21 for Chelsea, and the same as Wigan's Emile Heskey and Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Despite criticizing the Premier League for sloganeering and over-marketing, Lalas claimed that, when he arrives, Beckham will have a higher profile in the United States than Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan.

"The U.S. will never have dealt with an athlete who has had this kind of international impact,'' Lalas told The Mirror. "Tiger Woods has that international appeal but, with due respect to Woods and Michael Jordan, David Beckham is at an entirely different level.''

Lalas, a 37-year-old former United States defender, said his country's record at the past four World Cups compared favorably with that of England -- England has two underwhelming quarterfinal appearances to one for the U.S. -- and suggested almost all those who criticize the MLS have yet to see the league.

However, several British papers were unimpressed by the Galaxy's 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake on Sunday.

"The game was not without moments of quality ... [but] some of the defending from both sides was the type of stuff you watch through your fingers,'' according to The Mirror. "It was the football equivalent of a demolition derby.

"The use of possession was alarmingly careless and the concept of marking appeared not to have found its way across the Atlantic.''