Consider this itinerary: Playing a soccer game in Italy. Driving to airport in Milan. Flying to London. Changing flights and flying to Boston. Not bad if you have one week to complete the journey. But what if you had just 24 hours? And you had to play another game as soon you landed in Boston?
Former U.S. national team soccer star Alexi Lalas logged lots of miles during his career, but this might have been his craziest trip. He played for his Italian club team, Padova, on the front end, and then represented his country against Nigeria in the 1995 U.S. Cup. Lalas made it to Foxboro Stadium in time to play the second half.
"One of those memorable and epic trips that I think about," Lalas told ThePostGame. "I don’t recommend it."
At least Lalas got a ride from Massachusetts state troopers in a police cruiser from the airport to the stadium. Most travelers don't have that luxury. But Lalas also couldn't sink into a nice soft bed immediately after his trip because he had to compete first. It's having personal experiences such as this one that makes Lalas a nice fit for Marriott's Defenders of Travel campaign, which pegged around the U.S. national team and the World Cup.
"I spent most of my life traveling when I was a player or now with ESPN," Lalas said. "It’s what I do."
Marriott isn't an official World Cup sponsor. But it is the official hotel sponsor of U.S. Soccer, and the company hopes to capitalize on the increased interest in the sport during the tournament.
“I partner with people that recognize the power of soccer and have a passion for it," Lalas said, "and Marriott fits that bill."
As part of the campaign, Lalas and Omar Gonzalez, who could be playing for the U.S. at the World Cup, will be asking fans to share their favorite travel experiences on social media using the hashtag #TravelVictories for a chance to win prizes. There is also an instant-win game, Marriott Penalty Kick Challenge, on the website.