Q&A with New York GM Alexi Lalas

Team president/general manager Alexi Lalas is excited about new opportunities.

Photo Credit: 
Duffy-Marie Arnoult/WireImage.com

both on and off the field -- of this team. I think with the resources that Red Bull is going to be able to provide us that the sky is the limit and that this will go a long way in helping us to create the 'Superclub' that we've talked about for a while.

MLSnet.com: Specifically, how do you think Red Bull having taken ownership of the club will help you achieve that goal?
AL: We've just associated ourselves with a world-renowned brand -- one of the most unique and legendary brands and marketing abilities that the world has ever seen. All of the resources that Red Bull has will be put into making this team stronger on and off the field. I, for one, am excited about the incredible possibilities.

I would ask our fans to have an open mind, because we're going to blow your mind. They are going to see things that they've never seen before in MLS. Starting April 8 when they come out to Giants Stadium, there are going to be changes that will make the experience of going to see the Red Bulls something unique and unprecedented.

MLSnet.com: How involved was the club in the sale talks and how does the sale affect the Harrison stadium?
AL: This was a deal between AEG and Red Bull. Phil Anschutz has been an incredible crusader for this sport and has done more than we could ever repay with regards to pushing this sport and developing this sport on and off the field. Having said that, the plan to have one team and one owner is very real and this is a part of that process. I think that it's important.

You can't talk about this deal without talking about the effect that it has on our stadium in Harrison (N.J.) for 2008. Red Bull not only bought the team, but bought 50 percent of the stadium and the naming rights. This enables us to get the stadium in Harrison done for 2008 and it is going to be phenomenal. It's going to be a stadium the likes of which we've never seen in this country.

MLSnet.com: For you, specifically, it has been a busy couple of days. Is it one combined excitement for you about the possibility of being elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame and the new owners for the team?
AL: This has been a crazy week, but this is part of the gig. It has all been exciting, educational and I enjoy this type of adventure.

The Hall of Fame is an incredible honor and if I'm lucky enough to take a place there, it will be an incredible moment. But right now, I'm focusing on making this transition, implementing a Red Bull philosophy going forward and shouting from the rooftops about this change because it's incredibly positive. I want to make sure that everybody understands how important a moment this is for our organization.

MLSnet.com: With the MetroStars moving from an AEG team to a team owned by Red Bull, how will this affect the front office and/or the technical and player personnel?
AL: We have been told that there will be no changes with the front office, nor with the team and that is all good news because there are going to be some wonderful things in store for this team. I want to be a part of it and I know everyone else wants to be a part of it.

Having said that, this is also a business and we have expectations and everybody will continue to be assessed going forward -- on and off the field -- just like any business, including myself. Right now, I'm very, very positive with what this means for the organization and I'm excited to get to work. I'm also excited because I felt we were in a very healthy position even before this happened, both in terms of the team that we've assembled and the culture that we've assembled here in the organization.

MLSnet.com: Fans of Major League Soccer may look at this deal as a somewhat similar situation to Chivas USA and their ties to Chivas de Guadalajara. With Red Bull also having a team in Austria, will there be similarities to the Chivas situation in that the clubs will be linked and will have the opportunity to share resources, etc.?
AL: The resources, yes, there will be an incredible partnership between Austria and here. But Red Bull understands that there are [league] rules and regulations and we are committed to abide by them.

Having said that, this is a bold move and this is a bold statement from a company that is known for doing things in a bold way, at times unconventionally, but always with quality. Red Bull pushes the envelope and Red Bull will continue to push the envelope in terms of the development of this team and of the league. We will push change going forward because that is part of what we do.

MLSnet.com: What has been the reaction from the coaching staff and players from what you have heard so far?
AL: Mo [Johnston -- Red Bull New York head coach] was basically dealing with the players because he's out in Los Angeles while they're training out there, so he was passing along the information.

I talked to some players individually and collectively through e-mail I was able to keep them informed as to what was going on. The message was very simple: nothing changes for them except the uniforms they're going out in.

We still have a responsibility to improve and play an improved brand of soccer from last year and our goal still is to be MLS Cup champions. That doesn't change. Our expectations are the same: to win every single game and to be MLS Cup champions.

In a certain sense, this is all peripheral stuff that certainly can have an effect, but I like to think that we've assembled a group of players that are professional and mature on and off the field and are able to put this out of their minds when they need to and also look at the positive benefits that are going to come from our association with Red Bull.

MLSnet.com: You mentioned a change in uniform. When will the fans be able to get their hands on those as well?
AL: The uniforms will not be seen in public until our first game in D.C. (April 2). Those will obviously be the away jerseys. The first time the fans can see our home jerseys will be when we take the field on April 8 and we are going to blow peoples minds on April 8. It is going to be a spectacle, on and off the field. It is going to be the place to be, at Giants Stadium, and I can't wait because this is going to be an incredible season and we are going to kick it off with a bang for the season opener.

MLSnet.com: Red Bulls all around?
AL: (Laughs) Red Bulls para todos (Red Bulls for everyone)!

Jonathan Nierman 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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