Getting My Kicks
It was a great experience, to say the least. Lalas, who graduated from Cranbrook in 1988 and was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2006, was in town promoting the upcoming first-round Gold Cup match between the U.S. and Canada (dubbed ‘The Border War’), set to be played at Ford Field on June 7 at 8 pm.
This will be the first time the U.S. national team has played in Metro Detroit since 1994, when the red, white and blue, led by Lalas and his trademark mop top and goatee , played a first-round World Cup match at the Silverdome against Switzerland that ended in a 1-1 deadlock.
What a genuine class act this guy is. For a god in the biggest professional sport in the world, he was incredibly grounded and easy to talk to, not surprising being born and bred right here in THE OC!! There was abosultly no pretense with him and that was refreshing.
The former ace defender is extremely excited for U.S. soccer to be back in his hometown and so am I. The U.S. led by super stud Landon Donovan, is sure to give this city a show.
The winner of the Gold Cup – an all-out battle to crown the best national squad in North America, Central America and the Caribbean – advances to the Confederations Cup in 2013, a tournament the U.S. took second place in back in 2009. The 2013 Confederations Cup is scheduled to be played in Brazil.
During his younger days, Lalas cemented a legacy that makes him one of the all-time greatest athletes to ever spawn from this area. In high school, he was all-state in both soccer and hockey. As a junior and senior on the ice, Lalas, a feisty right wing, helped the Cranes to back-to-back state championships. On the prep soccer pitch, he was named Player of the Year in the state of Michigan in 1987. Once he hit the college ranks at Rutgers, the success continued. He guided the Scarlett Knights to consecutive final fours in 1989 and 1990, before going on to play professionally in some of Europe’s top leagues and on two World Cup teams and two U.S. Olympic teams.
Never one to forget about his roots, Lalas married his high school classmate, Anne Rouey, and they live with their two young children – Henry and Sophie – in California, where he commutes from to Bristol, Connecticut to act as ESPN’s top on-air soccer analyst.
Recalling his days as a teenager growing up in Birmingham, a smile came to his face.
“I was driving down Southfield Road coming out to Ford Field this morning and it brought back all these great memories of when I was in high school, just hanging out with my buddies, driving around being typical kids,” he said. “Seeing some of the same places from that time still around immediately transported me back to that time in my life. This was a great place to grow up.”