Lalas getting to know the Metros

E. RUTHERFORD, N.J. - There have been many faces of Alexi Lalas in the past 10 years and Jeff Agoos has seen all of them.

He was with Lalas the U.S. national team player, a roommate in residency camp leading up to the 1994 World Cup. He played against Lalas for several years in the infancy of MLS and played for Lalas last year when he was the president and general manager of the San Jose Earthquakes.

And now, two of the top all-time U.S. defenders are reunited again, with Lalas being named the new president and general manager of the MetroStars on Monday. He replaced Nick Sakiewicz, who was named president of AEG Soccer New York/New Jersey.

"I think we both matured and developed along a path as people do," Agoos said after Thursday's training session. "The Alexi I knew in '94 is definitely different than the Alexi in 2003 and now in 2005. They're different people but I'm a different person as well. I think Alexi now is a lot more business-like, less carefree, but those are the demands of the job. I wouldn't expect anything less."

After a whirlwind media tour Tuesday in Manhattan, Lalas met with the Metros players and coach Bob Bradley for the first time Wednesday. Like many of the younger Metros players, Chris Leitch grew up watching the old Lalas, the rock star with the red goatee.

"The only impression I ever had of him was that he was a solid player, a big, tall physical guy who clogged up the middle of the field," he said. "He was smart with his play, going forward sometimes on set pieces. He was solid for what seems like forever."

Veteran striker Ante Razov, who was traded from Columbus for John Wolyniec and a partial allocation in what was Sakiewicz's final acquisition, had several clashes with Lalas on the field.

"I know he's a hard guy to play against. Obviously he was a good defender and we battled on the field a few times," Razov said. "I'm sure we had some disagreements out there but I got a chance to talk to him a little bit yesterday and it's an exciting time for us both."

Bradley, who reportedly had a three-hour meeting with Lalas Wednesday, coached Lalas in the 1996 Summer Olympics as an assistant under Bruce Arena.

"We had a good meeting, we talked about a lot of things. That's our starting point," Bradley said. "He and Nick (Sakiewicz) are different personalities. It will take me time to establish a relationship with Alexi and learn how he thinks.

"But that process is always the case, in terms of communication," he said. "I've given him an idea of what I see and getting his ideas in return and (we're) moving things forward."

Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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