President and General Manager Alexi Lalas is leaving the San Jose Earthquakes to take a similar position with the AEG-run MetroStars.
Just three months into his second season with the club, Lalas has moved on with Vice President of Business Development Kate McAllister taking over on an interim basis. Nick Sakiewicz, who had been the President/GM of the MetroStars, takes over as President of AEG Soccer New York/New Jersey in a capacity which will allow him to focus on business matters, including the current stadium project in Harrison, N.J.
In making the announcement, AEG President and CEO Timothy Leiweke noted the importance for the league to have a successful entity in New York.
"No offense to San Jose, but if we don't fix the MetroStars, there might not be a league," said Leiweke. "We cannot be successful in this league without being successful in New York."
Leiweke stressed that this announcement has no bearing on the status of the San Jose club. The future of the Earthquakes has been up in the air the past couple of seasons, with AEG actively trying to sell its interest in the club.
"This move didn't have anything to do with that," said Leiweke, adding that a major decision regarding the Earthquakes will come "in weeks, not months."
"Nobody should read anything into this," he said.
Lalas took over business and soccer operations in San Jose on Jan. 27, 2004. Under his leadership, the Earthquakes achieved only moderate success on the field, compiling a 12-13-17 record. Off the field, however, San Jose boasted an increase of more than 22 percent in season ticket sales between the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
"It's been a privilege and an honor over the past two years to work with a staff and team that has always represented this club with professionalism and integrity," said Lalas. "I have a profound respect for the way they have handled adversity and still found ways to grow the business."
He will be counted upon for much more dramatic success in New York, especially on the field, where the MetroStars have not come close to a championship in the first nine years of their existence.
"It's a privilege and an honor to be associated with a club that has the potential to be world-renowned," said Lalas. "We want to be the first MLS superclub -- I'll be damned if I'm gonna let some posers from L.A. beat us to the punch."
Leiweke, who said he is "embarrassed" at the current state of the MetroStars, points out that this is the first move to get the team back on at least equal footing with the Galaxy.
"We have been working on this for a while," said Leiweke. "We have not put the resources into this club that we have with the L.A. Galaxy."
During his eight-year MLS career, Lalas played for both the MetroStars and Galaxy, in addition to the team he broke in with, the New England Revolution, and the Kansas City Wizards.
Danny Kadah is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.