Soccer Hall of Fame loses the publicity game

They were talking about the baseball Hall of Fame last week, and I got to thinking...what if soccer had a Hall of Fame? I think it would be great if there would be some institution that honored all the great players, coaches, administrators, and other figures from over a century of association football in the United States.

Where would we put such a thing? Well, Red Bull Arena has been suggested, I suppose Chicago has as well. But I have a crazy idea. For no reason whatsoever I was in a little town in upstate New York called Oneonta, and it's SUCH a pretty town. It's also just down the road from Cooperstown. So why not there?

I mean, there certainly should be an American Soccer Hall of Fame. Without it, how would we properly honor players like Jeff Agoos and Joy Fawcett?

I don't know why I bring this up, come to think of it. I mean, you had all this excitement going on in St. Louis with the SUPERDraft, so now would be a stupid week to announce Hall of Fame inductees. Why, I'll bet if you announced it yesterday, it wouldn't even make the sports section of the print editions of either the LA Times or the LA Daily News.

In all seriousness, anyone who wants to put an asterisk on this year's results gets only a token argument from me. I'd thought the Soccer Hall gave the game away this week when they said only two players were inducted - because, well, here was last year's ballot result:

Preki, 87 votes out of 128 ballots, 67.97%
Joy Fawcett, 86, 67.19%
Jeff Agoos, 75, 58.59%
Thomas Dooley, 71, 55.47%
Marco Etcheverry, 68, 53.12%
Joe-Max Moore, 55, 42.97%
Earnie Stewart, 54, 42.19%
Carlos Valderrama, 41, 32.03%
Shannon MacMillan, 35, 27.34%
Peter Vermes, 35, 27.34%

Remember, no new candidates this year. So, you would have thought that Preki and Fawcett would have been your winners.

Turns out over the past few months, Preki made some enemies. There were 159 voters this time around, which is almost certainly a Hall record. And here's what those extra thirty-one voters did:

Jeff Agoos, 108 votes, 67.9%
Joy Fawcett, 106, 66.7%
Preki, 96 votes, 60.4%
Thomas Dooley, 85, 53.5%
Marco Etcheverry, 78, 49.1%
Earnie Stewart, 68, 42.8%
Joe-Max Moore, 67, 42.1%
Carlos Valderrama, 59, 37.1%
Shannon MacMillan, 51, 32.1%
Peter Vermes, 50, 31.4%

Goose's vote total went up by thirty-three, which means that at minimum two previous skeptics were won over, even assuming the thirty-one new voters all work for the Red Bulls. A nine percent opinion shift upward is unprecedented since the 2004 rules reboot, and considering that no one left the ballot from last year, a little baffling.

Yeah, Agoos had a fantastic 2008, and Preki stunk it up, but still.

Were they in love with his MLS achievements? A very valid point, except that Preki's and Etchverry's were at least as impressive, and their percentages went down. Maybe they were all blinded by Agoos' rings.

Were they blown away by his national team achievements? Then they're still being wacky, because they also decided to have Joe-Max Moore pass Earnie Stewart, and Stewart was much better than either Moore or Agoos.

So over the past year, Jeff Agoos won over doubters and inspired new voters. He's the Barack Obama of American soccer. They should have had the announcement next Tuesday.

Except Obama didn't get elected on affirmative action - if the Hall hadn't lowered the bar from 75%, Induction Weekend upstate would have been as empty as...you know, thanks to the MLS Western Conference this year, I can't use "Red Bull's trophy room" for this joke anymore. Would have been perfect for Agoos, too. Oh, well.

I'm not going to go back on what I said about Agoos belonging, because, sure. Five rings, on five teams where he was a crucial component. Should have been MLS MVP in 2001. Had a truly terrific US national team performance that year, too, but I voted for Agoos despite his Nats career, not because of it.

I'm just annoyed at the inconsistency in voting - probably I'm taking out my irritation with the Jim Rice debacle on Goose and the soccer media. But just because Goose wasn't a one-dimensional member of a popular team whose career was extended by the designated hitter, that doesn't mean he was a better choice than Fawcett. And whether or not you believe Agoos was better than Preki, he didn't become better over the past twelve months.

Anyone who changes their vote has to publish an essay detailing his or her reasons. And I'm still volunteering to lead a voter purge.