soccer

Soccer Hall of Fame 2014 vote: Perfect 10

One bit of news from the NSCAA convention: Those of us who care about U.S. soccer history are gaining momentum.

The Society for American Soccer History might kick itself into gear in the coming months. Academics such as David Kilpatrick, who works with the Cosmos, are working to get serious papers published. And we’re still looking for creative ways to get the Soccer Hall of Fame out of storage, so fans can learn and enjoy this country’s colorful relationship with the world’s game.

Now we’ll have our annual vigil to see how many people will be unjustly snubbed in the Hall of Fame vote this year.

I typically vote for five, six, maybe eight people. And so do most voters with whom I’ve spoken, though it’s a small sample.

And yet, last year, NONE of the players on the ballot got the required 66.7% of the vote for induction. As set out in the Hall’s rules, they took the five top vote-getters for a second round, and Joe-Max Moore made it.

This year, we shouldn’t have that problem. Kristine Lilly and Brian McBride are on the ballot, and if you don’t vote for them, just pull a Dan LeBatard and hand your ballot to Deadspin.

Some idiot won’t vote for Lilly, but in general, the biggest women’s stars have been nearly unanimous. The highest vote percentages in Kenn Tomasch’s archive: Mia Hamm 97.16, Claudio Reyna 96.08, Michelle Akers 95.89, Eric Wynalda 93.15. I’ll guess Lilly is somewhere in the 93-95 range, and McBride will be in the low 90s.

Could we get a rare three-person class? The rest of the newcomers (in alpha order): Chris Klein, Eddie Lewis, Lilly, Kristin Luckenbill, Kate Markgraf, Clint Mathis, McBride, Jaime Moreno, Steve Ralston and Briana Scurry.

If Briana Scurry could be voted the best U.S. women’s goalkeeper of all time (with some debate, sure), she’d have to be a Hall of Famer as well. Right?

Kate Markgraf didn’t make the all-time Best XI back line, but that’s only because she was behind current Hall of Famers Carla Overbeck and Joy Fawcett, along with future Hall of Famers Brandi Chastain (eligible in 2016) and Christie Rampone (eligible when she has been retired for three years, so … 2049?).

Then you have Jaime Moreno. Third in MLS history with 133 goals (one behind co-leaders Landon Donovan and Jeff Cunningham). Fifth in MLS history with 102 assists. The common thread in all four of D.C. United’s MLS Cup wins.

The NASL has plenty of foreign players in the U.S. Hall. MLS is long overdue to get one.

But I’ve been beating this drum for years for Moreno’s teammate, Marco Etcheverry. The Bolivian playmaker was the cornerstone of D.C. United’s dominance in the early year, and even after fading in his latter years, he finished his MLS days with 101 assists in 191 games.

That’s six players who should be in the Hall. No question. And I’ll add one more — women’s soccer super-scorer Shannon MacMillan.

(Yes, 99er-bashers, I will be voting for your favorites when the time comes. Hope Solo is absolutely a Hall of Famer. And Abby Wambach, obviously. I’ll vote for Heather O’Reilly and Carli Lloyd. As long as Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe stay anywhere close to their current form for a couple more years, I’ll vote for them as well. The defender with the most HOF potential to me is Becky Sauerbrunn, who has considerable pro accomplishments along with her WNT play.)

Last year, I had three more names on the ballot — Jason Kreis, Robin Fraser and Cindy Parlow. I’ll add them again. I don’t feel as strongly about them as I do about the other seven, but they certainly wouldn’t be out of place in the Hall. At the very least, they deserve to have their names carry over on the ballot for another year and remain in the discussion.

That’s my maximum — 10 players. And I’m still passing up all-time MLS assist leader Steve Ralston, 100-goal scorer Taylor Twellman, midfielder monster Chris Armas, reliable midfield leader Ben Olsen, and 2002 World Cup contributors Clint Mathis and Eddie Lewis. Based on the old criteria for the Hall of Fame (pre-2000), all of those players would be in. So would John O’Brien and Tony Sanneh. We’ve raised the bar, but we’ve overcorrected.

One of these years, we’re going to have to induct a huge class and clear the logjam. Will it be this year?

Probably not. I’m predicting a three-person class, with these percentages:

– Lilly 95
– McBride 92
– Scurry 72
– Markgraf 63
– Etcheverry 55
– Moreno 52
– MacMillan 47
– Parlow 35
– Ralston 35
– Armas 23
– Kreis 20
– Mathis 18
– Fraser 15
– Twellman 15
– Olsen 13
– Lewis 13

Or maybe this will be the year my fellow voters prove me wrong. I’m not expecting 10 people to make it. But can we aim for four or five?

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3 replies »

  1. Love to read that folks are looking to get soccer history out into the open from the dusty confines of the North Carolina warehouses!

    As for the ballot, my fear when I saw the ballot is that too many of the voters will think that American soccer history began with MLS. There was a LOT of soccer played indoors during the dark Division 1-less days. Zoran Karic and Victor Nogueira have their final shot on this ballot and you didn’t mention either of them.

    Karic was part of the dynamic duo in Cleveland for ages where he paired with Hector Marinaro to terrorize the NPSL. Nogueira was a legendary keeper for over a decade for the Milwaukie Wave and for 20+ years overall with tons of awards and accolades. And if Zungul doesn’t get in on the veterans ballot, something is seriously wrong.

    The group of voters are stocked with outdoor, national-team and MLS folks. Have these folks lived American soccer for enough decades to understand that soccer history bean before 1996?

  2. They have tweaked the rules for indoor players:

    “Beginning with the 2014 Class, the Player and Veteran eligibility criteria were amended by the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors to allow the inclusion of eligible Major Indoor Soccer League players. Under the amendment, eligible players must have played at least five seasons in the MISL between 1984 and the end of the league in 1992, and been selected as a first-team postseason All-Star in at least one of those seasons. – See more at: http://www.ussoccer.com/news/federation-services/2014/01/140116-hof-ballot-rel.aspx#sthash.z7esAPRC.dpuf

    It’ll be difficult for them to make the cut in a year like this, though. The veterans committee might help.

    The voting pool should include some institutional memory, though — all Hall of Famers, plus a lot of media members older than I am.

    I do sometimes think the Hall should have a “catch-up” year to induct a few MISL people along with others who have fallen through the cracks in these years in which the bar has been set so high.

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