From the moment Red Bull signed the check to buy the MetroStars from Anschutz Entertainment Group, Alexi Lalas didn't appear likely to stick around New York for long. Even as Lalas continued to deny that he had his eyes on a return to the West Coast, it became increasingly more difficult to believe that he would not return to AEG, the company that gave him his start in soccer management.
The charade is finally over. Lalas has submitted his resignation to the Red Bulls and will take over as team president of the Los Angeles Galaxy. According to MLS sources, Lalas informed the team's players of his decision to resign Sunday morning, a day after the Red Bulls tied Real Salt Lake 1-1. New York is expected to announce Lalas' resignation Monday. It remains unclear who Red Bull will hire to replace Lalas.
Lalas joins the Galaxy as the replacement for Doug Hamilton, who died of a heart attack March 9 as he flew back with the Galaxy from a CONCACAF Champions Cup match in Costa Rica. According to MLS sources, Lalas' move to the Galaxy was in the works before Hamilton's death, as Hamilton had been expected to take a senior management position with AEG.
The move marks the third MLS team Lalas has taken over in the past year, all three of which were AEG teams at the time Lalas took over. He spent 17 months as president of the San Jose Earthquakes. He left San Jose to replace Nick Sakiewicz as president of the MetroStars in June 2005.
Lalas repeatedly denied that he would leave the Red Bulls, stating during the team's media day that he had no intention of leaving.
"Unless I get [myself] fired, I plan on being here," Lalas said. "I'm focused on building a winner here and turning this team into a marquee franchise."
Mo Johnston could be the next to leave the Red Bulls if the club's new owners decide to start fresh with a new president and new head coach. Johnston has a 2-0-4 regular-season record since taking over for Bob Bradley last October, but the Red Bulls have mustered just three draws in three matches to start the season. The team has also squandered leads in two of its first three matches.
If Johnston is fired, he is unlikely to remain unemployed for long. Teams in England and Scotland have expressed serious interest in hiring Johnston as a manager.
Ives Galarcep covers MLS for ESPN.com and is a writer and columnist for the Herald News (N.J.). He can be reached at Ivespn79@aol.com.