Linguist Leads LA Aztecs

Date Published: 
Playground Daily News

LOS ANGELES (UPI)—Alex Perolli speaks eight languages, but to make him happy, his Los Angeles Aztecs of the North American Soccer League need only "talk with their feet."

A veteran of 26 years on the coaching lines, Perolli, 53, says he has no trouble communicating with his 20 players, who hail from seven different countries—Argentina, Trinidad, Brazil, Uruguay, Turkey, Mexico and the United States.

"All the players have to do is talk with their feet," says Perolli, who was born in Albania and speaks Albanian, Yugoslavian, Bulgarian, German, Italian, French, Spanish and English. "They have to talk with the ball.

"Soccer is different. If it were American football, where you stop and call plays, language might be more important. Soccer is a game of constant action.

"During practice sessions we communicate through the use of diagrams on the blackboard and the showing of films. We don't really have to talk."

Perolli's coaching record speaks for itself.

He has a history of guiding struggling teams in Italy, Guatemala and Mexico to respectability and, in some cases, championships. In 1970, Perolli coached Rochester to the NASL title in the team's first year in the league.

He apparently has the same thing in mind for his Aztecs, a new entry in the NASL.

Prior to the start of the Aztecs' 20-game league schedule against Seattle here on May 5, Perolli scheduled four clashes with teams from Mexico's rugged first division.

The Aztecs fared well in their first two games, defeating Monterrey, 2-1 on April 7, and edging Atlante, 1-0, on April 14.

"We need more conditioning," said Perolli while trying, without much success, to mask his obvious pleasure with the way things have gone thus far. "We need more team play. But that was the reason we scheduled these games.

"We are very pleased ... not so much with the results ... but we are pleased the players understand the way we want them to play."