Aztecs Please Perolli

Glenn Parsons
Date Published: 
Pasadena Star-News

Happy Man After Opening Win

Alex Perolli, head coach of the Los Angeles Aztecs, is about as new to soccer as Father Time is to New Year's Eve celebrations.

After playing 10 years with perennial Austrian champion Graz, a career which included seven European Cup names and five years as team captain, Perolli began a coaching career which has spanned 26 years.

He has tutored international championship teams in Mexico, Italy and Guatemala, led
squads to 48 consecutive victories and earned the nickname "The Magician" for his ability to win championships within one year of accepting a coaching job.

Perolli led Rochester, New York to the North American Soccer League championship in 1970 — only four months after joining the club.

And as if the world needs further proof of Perolli's coaching abilities, the Aztecs provided their coach with a 2-1 victory over Monterrey, Mexico's number one professional team, Sunday in their competitive debut before 12,349 fans.

"It did not surprise me to be leading Monterrey 2-0," Perolli said in analyzing his squad's effort. "I have coached at Monterrey and I have coached their present coach, Ignacio Jauregui, so I know what they are going to do.

"My only worry was our physical condition. We have only been together as a team for two weeks, so I didn't know how we would play in the second half."

But the Aztecs, who dominated the game offensively and defensively (goalie Kelvin Barclay made 10 saves, seven in the second half), kept the heat on Monterrey in the second half, not allowing their opponents a goal until the last few minutes of the contest.

"We aren't in excellent shape yet, but I'm pleased with our progress at this point," Perolli commented. "It will probably take another two or three weeks before I can be completely happy with the players' condition."

As for his squad's talent, Perolli finds it sufficient, to say the least.

"I won't go so far as to say we will win the NASL championship this year," he said, "but we will be the team to beat. I spend a good deal of time learning to know my players and what I can do with them and I know they have the ability to be a top team."

Perolli's favorite game plan is a 4-4-2 formation which has his four midfield men coming up to aid the two forwards and lend explosiveness to his offensive attack. At the same time, the midfield players are in position to retreat and help on defense.

"We were able to play the 4-4-2 more than I thought we would at this time," the coach said. "The players picked it up quickly and played it well."

And if things continue to go well for Alex Perolli and the Aztecs, Los Angeles may end up with a national championship to go with the newest addition to the Southern California pro sports family.