Wed, Jun 20, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Premier League an `inferior product,' Galaxy boss says

AP , 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 US beat England 2-0 in a friendly in 1993, told British newspapers that Major League Soccer is on a par with the Premier League.

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 US-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 yesterday.

"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," Lalas said.

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

McBride -- the third-highest scorer in US 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 US than Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan.

"The US 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 US defender, said his country's record at the past four World Cups compared favorably with that of England -- England has two underwhelming quarter-final appearances to one for the US -- and suggested almost all those who criticize the MLS have yet to see the league.

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