National Soccer Hall of Fame

Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NYC & Company

Lamar Hunt’s legacy looms large over Garber’s HOF induction

Leave a comment

FRISCO, Texas (AP) Back in 1999, NFL team owners Lamar Hunt and Robert Kraft approached Don Garber and asked if he might be interested in serving as commissioner of Major League Soccer.

[ VIDEO: Wayne Rooney swerves long free kick around the wall ]

The domestic soccer league was in trouble in just its fourth year, and at the time Garber was head of NFL International.

Garber mulled the proposition before ultimately taking the job. Now nearing two decades at the MLS helm, Garber is guiding an ever-expanding league that is set to field 26 teams by 2020.

Garber will be enshrined in the National Soccer Hall of Fame at Toyota Stadium, the home of FC Dallas, this weekend. Originally selected for the honor in 2016, Garber put off his addition until now for a simple reason.

Lamar Hunt.

“Probably more important than just his role in bringing me here, Lamar is really one of the true legends in the sports industry. He had such grace and such humility, and such a passion for the sports industry, but really a deep passion for the sport of soccer,” Garber said. “As a young man in my early days at MLS, I was in such awe everything that he was – not just what he accomplished, but how he thought about life, and how he thought about the commitment needed to make the game permanent and indelible in this country.”

[ MORE: USMNT’s Sargent moved to Werder Bremen first team ]

The story goes that Hunt was inspired to promote soccer in the United States after attending the World Cup in 1966. He founded the North American Soccer League in 1967. He was instrumental in bringing the World Cup to the United States in 1994. And he was a founding investor in MLS.

Hunt, who owned the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and FC Dallas and the Columbus Crew, passed away in 2006. One of his last big projects was to open Toyota Stadium. So it was in his memory that his family partnered with U.S. Soccer, the city and Frisco Independent School District and announced plans in 2015 for a new National Soccer Hall of Fame to be built at the stadium.

Garber put off his induction so he could be enshrined at the new Hall of Fame, which also allows him to further honor Hunt.

“When I was told that I was going to be inducted, at that point I knew that the Hall was being built and I just thought it would be a really special opportunity for me, and really, Major League Soccer, to have a close MLS connection with the Hall,” Garber said. “And it would give me an opportunity to honor the memory of Lamar and to really make a strong statement on how indebted I am and how MLS is to the Hunt family overall.”

The Hall of Fame was established in 1979 and for a time was located in Oneonta, New York. It was closed in 2010, but inductions continued. The collection was stored in North Carolina.

“We just thought it would be a fitting way to honor everything he did for the sport, while also giving the sport of soccer and the Hall of Fame, that celebrates all the great players, a really outstanding home,” eldest son Clark Hunt said.

Garber tells the story of seeing Hunt at the 2002 World Cup match between the United States and Portugal. Hunt was seated in the stands and following the U.S. upset victory, Garber glanced over and saw Hunt had a tear in his eye.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 9

“When we were both leaving the stadium I said, `Boy, Lamar, you looked quite emotional.’ And he said it was one of the great sporting experiences of his life. And this was a guy who won the Super Bowl,” Garber said.

Garber asked Clark Hunt to introduce him at the induction ceremony Saturday.

“Our family does have a 30-year relationship with Don, going back to his time with the NFL,” Clark Hunt said. “He and my dad were very close, and my dad played a critical role in luring him from the NFL over to Major League Soccer, where he became commissioner. And I know he’s very excited that the Hall is going to be associated with one of the stadiums and teams my father was involved in.”

In addition to his role as commissioner, Garber is also CEO of Soccer United Marketing, the exclusive marketing partner of U.S. Soccer, and a member of the U.S. Soccer Federation board of directors.

Joining him in the Hall of Fame this year is a trio of former U.S. national team players, Tiffeny Milbrett, Brad Friedel and Cindy Parlow Cone, as well as former U.S. Soccer President Bob Contiguglia. Veteran broadcaster JP Dellacamera is the 2018 Colin Jose media award recipient.

The new Hall opens to the public on Nov. 2.

The Soccer Hall of Fame’s “Essential XI” is infuriating

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
1 Comment

Let’s get this out of the way: The National Soccer Hall of Fame’s “Essential XI” ballot — vote today! –will make you want to massage a mannequin made of broken glass.

That’s not because the XI isn’t fun, or the NSHOF won’t be amazing, but because choosing the members of this particular 3-4-3 is improbably difficult.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season preview ]

I’ve filled out the XI a bunch of times, and not once have I felt good with my picks. Even the positions which seem clear cut… just… aren’t.

There’s one tip I’d give anyone considering their ballot: DO NOT choose a foreign player who played in the old NASL or an import who spent the waning days of his career in a nascent MLS.

Franz Beckenbauer and David Beckham definitely deserve credit for their contributions to American soccer, but having one of them pop up in an all-time XI would be an embarrassment in my — and I’m assuming many others’ — eyes.

Also, don’t do the write-in… the candidate won’t win (I made an XI of Josh Wolffs, anyway).

So here are the main options I wrestle with when I look at the nominees. Having men and women in the same XI is also a headache given the USWNT’s success.

Goalkeepers

Brad Friedel
Frank Borghi
Hope Solo
Nick Rimando
Tony Meola
Kasey Keller
Brianna Scurry
Mary Harvey
Tim Howard

Respect to all of these players, but it’s hard not to immediately strip this to Keller versus Howard (with Friedel in third, which is insane given our soccer culture). There’s recency bias here, I’m sure, but Howard’s success with Manchester United and then at Everton, holding the No. 1 chair for 10 seasons? That’s nuts. Keller’s career is nearly as amazing, and his performance against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup is close to Howard vs. Belgium in 2014. Brutal choice.

Ultimately I went with… Howard.

Defenders

Franz Beckenbauer
Harry Keough
Alexi Lalas
Marcelo Balboa
Christie Pearce Rampone
Steve Cherundolo
Carla Overbeck
Paul Caligiuri
Carlos Bocanegra
Brandi Chastain
Joy Fawcett
Kate Markgraf

Let me say this first, as a (horrible) forward, for some reason my favorite players were always backs. Bocanegra and Cherundolo are in my Top Three USMNT players of all-time. That said, it’s impossible to avoid Chastain’s status of holding the most iconic moment in U.S. Soccer history (It is called a Hall of Fame, after all), and Rampone held her position through one of the most competitive times in USWNT history. Keough gets the nod for his status on a legendary USMNT team and a storied career in coaching, too. He’s an architect.

Ultimately I went with… Keough, Chastain, Pierce-Rampone.

Midfielders

Walter Bahr
Michael Bradley
DaMarcus Beasley
Heather O’Reilly
Megan Rapinoe
Cobi Jones
Kristine Lilly
Carli Lloyd
Earnie Stewart
Julie Foudy
Tab Ramos
Claudio Reyna
David Beckham
John Harkes

First off, you have to include Lilly. She owns 354 caps and scored 130 goals, the latter of which is insane for a midfielder.

Now if you include Foudy, Rapinoe, Bahr, or Harkes — the latter’s omission perhaps the most egregious — you’ll have to exclude three absolute icons of the American men’s game.

Cobi Jones is the USMNT’s all-time caps leader, and his record is safe for some time. His iconic dreadlocks also just trump Alexi Lalas as the top look in U.S. Soccer (apologies to all the bald GKs and Bradley).

To me, Reyna and Bradley are similar players, generals, and trendsetters. Given the World Cup qualifying failure of the 2018 cycle, there’s a temptation to look past Bradley but that’s asinine. He’s got 140 caps, 17 goals, memorable goals at Azteca and in a qualifier’s qualifier against Costa Rica. And Donovan against Algeria doesn’t happen if Bradley doesn’t equalize against Slovenia. This doesn’t include his exploits at Roma, Gladbach, and Toronto FC. He’s really good.

Reyna won three NCAA championships under Bruce Arena at Virginia, earned 112 caps for the USMNT, and opened doors for Americans in Germany and Scotland (winning a double at the latter) in addition to becoming a fixture for Man City, making a World Cup Best XI, and winning the freaking Hermann Trophy.

All this leaves out Earnie Stewart and a two-time women’s World Player of the Year in Lloyd. Wow.

Ultimately I went with… Jones, Lilly, Reyna, Bradley.

Forwards

Landon Donovan
Carin Jennings-Gabarra
Tiffeny Milbrett
Abby Wambach
Cindy Parlow-Cone
Eric Wynalda
Alex Morgan
Michelle Akers
Jozy Altidore
Brian McBride
Clint Dempsey
Giorgio Chinaglia
Mia Hamm
Pele

This one feels reason enough to demand separate XIs for the USMNT and USWNT. In order to include a male, you need to ditch either Abby Wambach, Michelle Akers, or Mia Hamm. You have to exclude two of those to get both Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey on the XI!!

Hamm scored 158 goals (second all-time) and 145 assists (first) in 276 caps. Even given the investment in American women’s soccer compared the rest of the world, that’s absurd. Akers scored 107 times in just 155 caps. That’s insane. Wambach, as dominant as she was, doesn’t touch that.

Which pretty much brings us to Donovan or Dempsey (Sorry, Eric Wynalda and Brian McBride). For me, the level of success Dempsey found as a flame-holder for American soccer in England tips the scales for me. He’s scored the same amount of goals in 16 less caps, though Donovan torches him in assists. If you forced me to take Donovan over Dempsey, I wouldn’t put up much of a fight.

Ultimately I went with… Hamm, Dempsey, Akers

Five honored with National Soccer Hall of Fame status

Mike Powell/ALLSPORT
Leave a comment

Don Garber, Brad Friedel, Cindy Parlow Cone, Tiffeny Milbrett, and Robert Contiguglia have been announced in this year’s class of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

The induction will occur Oct. 20 as part of Hall of Fame weekend in Dallas, with FC Dallas facing Sporting KC.

[ MORE: Who will replace Zidane? ]

Friedel is the current coach of New England Revolution, who are off to a surprising start. The longtime Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper was capped 82 times by the USMNT in a playing career which also included time with Liverpool, Galatasaray, Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur, and Columbus Crew.

Parlow Cone scored 75 times in 158 USWNT caps, successfully transitioning to a coaching career which includes the 2013 NWSL title for the Portland Thorns.

Milbrett, 45, bagged 100 goals for the USWNT in 206 caps. She scored seven goals across three World Cups.

Contiguglia is a former USSF president who served from 1998-2006, a wildly successful time for the game.

MLSSoccer.com points out that current MLS commissioner Garber was elected in 2016, “but opted to defer his enshrinement” until the new Hall of Fame was completed in Dallas.

Friedel, Bocanegra, Henry nominated for Hall of Fame

Stephen Pond/Getty Images
1 Comment

CHICAGO (AP) Brad Friedel, Carlos Bocanegra and Thierry Henry are among first-year eligibles nominated for the National Soccer Hall of Fame’s class of 2018.

[ MORE: 23 thoughts from MLS Week 2 ]

Also on the ballot for the first time are Juan Pablo Angel, Bobby Convey, Jay DeMerit, Stuart Holden, Eddie Johnson and Lori Lindsey.

To be eligible, a player must have played at least 20 full international games for the United States (reduced to 10 if the games were before 1990); or have played at least five seasons in an American first-division professional league and been a postseason league all-star at least once; or played at least five seasons in the Major Indoor Soccer League between the end of the NASL in 1984 and the end of the MISL in 1992, and been selected as a first-team postseason all-star in at least one of those seasons.

The Hall of Fame facility in Frisco, Texas, will open on Oct. 20-21, and will feature induction ceremonies, followed by FC Dallas hosting Sporting Kansas City in an MLS match.

There are 32 individuals on the player ballot, nine on the veterans ballot and seven on the builders ballot.

Any player appearing on at least 66.7 percent of ballots will earn election. Voters can select up to 10 players.

Voters can choose up to five veteran candidates, and the top vote getter will be elected as long as he or she appears on a minimum of 50 percent of the ballots. Builders must be at least 50 years of age and are eligible by making their mark in the soccer community in a non-playing capacity while having a major, sustained and positive impact on American Soccer at the national, federation or first-division level for at least 10 years. The voting procedure is the same for them as for seniors.

The ballots:

PLAYERS

Juan Pablo Angel, David Beckham, Gregg Berhalter, Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Brian Ching, Bobby Convey, Jeff Cunningham, Jay DeMerit, Brad Friedel, Kevin Hartman, Frankie Hejduk, Thierry Henry, Stuart Holden, Eddie Johnson, Chris Klein, Eddie Lewis, Lori Lindsey, Kate Sobrero Markgraf, Pablo Mastroeni, Clint Mathis, Tiffeny Milbrett, Heather Mitts, Jaime Moreno, Ben Olsen, Pat Onstad, Steve Ralston, Ante Razov, Tony Sanneh, Taylor Twellman, Aly Wagner, Josh Wolff.

VETERANS

Mike Burns, Kevin Crow, John Doyle, Marco Etcheverry, Linda Hamilton, Shep Messing, Cindy Parlow, Tiffany Roberts, Tisha Venturini-Hoch.

BUILDERS

Esse Baharmast, Dr. Robert Contiguglia, Joe Cummings, Tim Leiweke, Francisco Marcos, Kevin Payne, Steve Sampson.

PK hero Brianna Scurry, Dr. Joe Machnik voted into Hall of Fame

Jon Ferrey/Allsport
Leave a comment

CHICAGO (AP) Goalkeeper Briana Scurry and contributor Dr. Joe Machnik have been elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Scurry was selected Thursday on the player ballot, Machnik on the builder ballot.

Scurry backstopped the 1999 U.S. women to the World Cup title, stopping a penalty shot against China in the shootout. Considered one of many pioneers for the women’s sport on that team, Scurry played every minute in goal at three Women’s World Cups and two Olympic, sustaining only two losses in those tournaments. She won two Olympic gold medals and finished her international career with 173 caps and 72 shutouts. .

“It’s a fantastic honor to be inducted to the Hall of Fame,” Scurry said. “I remember watching the Olympics on the couch with my parents at 8 years old, dreaming of becoming an Olympian myself. It was with their help – and that of my coaches, teammates, and countless others – that I was blessed to not only become an Olympian, but an Olympic and World Cup champion.

“Soccer had already given me so much more than I could possibly give back. Now, to be inducted alongside the likes of Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, and Kristine Lilly, I am truly humbled.”

Since retiring as a player, Scurry has become an advocate for concussion and traumatic brain injury awareness. She has testified twice in Congress as part of committees on brain injury and sports safety.

Machnik has been a player, coach, referee, instructor, match commissioner and broadcaster and has been called “American soccer’s renaissance man.” He was an assistant coach when the U.S. men reached the 1990 World Cup, first appearance in 40 years. He has served as head of referees for three professional soccer leagues, including 15 years with Major League Soccer.

“Induction into the National Soccer Hall of Fame is the ultimate award in American soccer,” he said. “To be recognized as a builder of the sport that has captivated the passion of our country and has provided playing opportunities for millions of boys and girls and men and women is, indeed, an honor.”

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL