And so were nine other people.
And that isn't even the fight I want to start. That was last year.
Beau Dure asked in a comment back there somewhere when a player will be elected to the Hall of Fame based on his MLS achievements. The answer is, or should be, 2008. (It should have been last year, but a couple of chicks got in the way.) And it shouldn't just be one player, but six: Jeff Agoos, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Marco Etcheverry, Carlos Valderrama, Preki, and Robin Fraser.
Yeah, Preki played for the national team, and had a sweet goal against Brazil. It's not the Hall of Guys Who Had a Sweet Goal That One Time. He gets in based on MLS. I'm not expecting a lot of pushback on this choice, but: 79 goals, 112 assists, a double, eight-time all-star, two-time scoring champ, two-time MVP. I understand he played indoors at some point, but I don't know from futsal or handball or whatever.
Yeah, Peter Nowak was named to the MLS All-Time Best XI. The people who named the MLS All-Time Best XI blew it in a few positions, and that was one of them.* Cienfuegos, Etcheverry, Preki and Valderrama all played the same position in MLS, for longer, had more championships, more goals, more assists. Nowak had three really good years in MLS. It's not the Hall of Guys Who Had Three Really Good Years In MLS. I'm sure if Nowak had played in MLS in 1996 and 1997, he would have run up some really terrific numbers against some of those alleged defenses back then. Roberto Baggio would have, too, but he didn't, now, did he? This isn't the Hall of Counterfactuals.
Are you sick of the whole This isn't the Hall of Whatever schtick? I kind of am, to be honest. But, this isn't the Hall of Giving Up On Schticks Halfway Through the Post.
Jeff Agoos is getting some fairly good press, but I just don't see voters forgiving little things like being totally worthless for the national team except for qualifying in 2001. He gets in based on all those freaking rings, and how crucial he was for those teams. Maybe DC United wins some of those titles without him, but no way San Jose gets a peek in 2001 without him. That's what he brought every year, it was just that in San Jose he didn't have the supporting cast around him. Ronnie Ekelund was terrific, but he was no Etcheverry.
I'm not anticipating too many arguments about Earnie Stewart. Man, I wish we'd had him in 1990, don't you? Talk about five guys who would have made a difference that year - Perez, Preki, Wegerle, Dooley and Stewart. I'd asked Bob Gansler once about why Dooley, Preki and Stewart weren't there - he said they hadn't the resources to scout GI's kids in Europe back then. And that at the time Preki was still dilly-dallying about getting his citizenship. Since Preki didn't become a citizen until 1998, Gansler's story checks out. I didn't ask about Wegerle, since I knew in 1990 he was still hoping to be English or German. And I didn't ask about Hugo Perez, because he seemed to be in a bad mood anyway.
I've ranted about Dooley and Joy Fawcett in previous years. I'm still right. You're still wrong if you disagree with me.
In order to make room for these other guys, plus Robin Fraser, I had to decide whether to leave off Mike Sorber or Peter Vermes. Both guys deserve it, but both aren't the sort of guys I'd go to the scaffold for. Both are wildly unappreciated for what they did accomplish. Vermes is the slightly better choice, because of the 1988 Olympics and the 2000 Defender of the Year award. But I went with Sorber because, and this is a truly sucky reason, Sorber retired first, therefore Vermes will be on the ballot longer. If I ever meet Vermes, or see Sorber again, I fully expect to be smacked in the face for this.
But I ain't dumping Robin Fraser. I'm going to the wall for this one. This is my Screw You vote. I'll give up my right to vote - in actual political elections, Happy Super Tuesday by the way - before I back down from this.
Michael Lewis also thinks he's going in this year, but I worry about his meager cap total, his zero World Cup appearances, and his zero MLS championships. First of all, though, let's rethink the APSL/A-League of the early 1990's for a second. The only reason it was given Division Two "status" is because Alan Rothenberg reserved Division One for his vapor league that didn't even see the light of day before the World Cup. (What happened to that project, anyway?)
Fraser was not only the best defender in the history of MLS, he was the best defender in APSL history. Four all-star appearances, and a couple of championships with the Colorado Foxes. Alan Rothenberg doesn't get to take that away from him.
Now, you might say "Well, most of the top US players in the early 90's were scooped up by USSF, so Fraser just wasn't as good as guys like John Doyle, Cle Kooiman and Desmond Armstrong." Thanks, I'm still going to count his APSL achievements, if that's okay.
Of at least equal importance is the way he played the game. Whether with a good team like the Foxes, a terrific but flawed team like the 90's Galaxy, or garbage teams like the mid-period Rapids and Crew, he led his teams with style and flair. He wasn't some brainless hack like Doyle. He was a scientist of the game. He's the first guy I would point to for an example of how the position, and the game, should be played.
Yeah, well, screw you too. I'm voting for Fraser. This year, the next year, and the next eight years after that until he's on the Veterans ballot. (And then they'd better get on the case, if they know what's good for them. I've got nothing better to do in 2018 than go up to Oneonta and start slapping people.)
Anyway, my ballot:
*The other gatecrashers in the MLS Best XI, in case you're wondering, were Meola, Balboa, and McBride. Those guys were great for the national team, appreciably less so in MLS. The easiest fix would be to move Donovan to forward alongside Moreno, put Armas in Nowak's place, put Fraser in for Balboa, and in goal either Hartman or Onstad. It's more difficult if you want to put in an actual forward up top, but Donovan is better than any of the other guys besides Moreno in the top ten all-time scoring in MLS anyway, so let Razov and Kreis stew.