Ever since Vespasian conquered Oneonta in AD 70, American soccer fans have kept hope in our hearts until one day we can return and rebuild the Hall of Fame. Until then, though, we will darn well act like we have a brick-and-mortar Hall. Baseball and football bloggers get three free columns a year - nominations, election, induction - so why can't we? Bill Simmons used the Basketball Hall of Fame as a jumping off point for an entire terrible book. So we're damn well going to take this turnip and get some milk out of it. Here is this year's complete ballot:
Tony Meola Claudio Reyna 29 other people
Used to be there was a ceiling on how many of the recently retired could be promoted to glory. But, there wasn't a floor, and it took a few years for the voting pool to warm up to Earnie Stewart, Jeff Agoos and Preki. Apparently someone saw that the Hall went a couple of years without enrolling a recent player, and then noticed the whole building closed down, and got all post hoc ergo propter hoc. These days, there's no limit in how many people can be inducted at a time.
Which was fantastic news for ballot holdovers, because this year Meola and Reyna, like Cobi and Pope last year, are crashing the ballot like Kool-Aid Men. I suppose there will be people who vote against one, or the other - maybe those who hold games against Romania in 1994 and Ghana in 2006 in bitter searing memory. Or maybe those who hold it against Reyna that he did not in fact end up being one of the most influential people in the world like Time Magazine said he would. Or maybe those who only saw the two play in MLS in New York.
Pick and carp and nits and gnats - Meola and Reyna are in, and there will be dancing in the streets of Charlottesville.
Who else will get in? Depends on how much of an outlier Earnie Stewart was. He was initially getting vote percentages in the forties, and made up considerable ground until he was finally elected. Kenn has easy-to-read charts. Thomas Dooley also had a huge increase in support the year he was elected, but he started at around the 50% level on his first ballot.
The players most likely to make up the gap are Marco Etcheverry, Shannon MacMillan and Joe-Max Moore. All three have been hovering around 50-60%, and for some reason Hall of Fame voters will warm up to the occasional borderline candidate. I usually despise that kind of voter...except I'm doing it this year.
Let me explain. Three people I voted for last year got in. That leaves me with seven holdovers, against none of whom I had developed any sort of grudge. So I have three spaces on this year's ballot. Two of those are Meola and Reyna.
The other first-time nominees, just for the sake of laughs, are:
Thori Staples Bryan Jose Burciaga, Jr. Ronald Cerritos Lorrie Fair Jen Lalor-Nielsen Ronnie O'Brien Ante Razov David Regis Greg Vanney Kerry Zavagnin
Hall of Famers none.
So I've got an extra vote (you have ten picks). And I'm giving it to Shannon MacMillan, for a couple of reasons.
One, this week's events have sort of proven that wonderful US women's national team players are not to be taken for granted. Let's just say that the way our current stars have been behaving this week have really made the 90's team look great in comparison, and oh by the way MacMillan was on a team that won a World Cup.
But it's possible that MacMillan will be a genuine, as opposed to theoretical, borderline case. One teeny weeny vote hasn't made a difference yet, but this year it might.
I suppose I could wait until next year, where the biggest incoming names look to be Jesse Marsch and Ben Olsen. The year after, though? McBride, Chastain and Twellman. I'm going to get some of these people in while I can, because in a few years it's going to get crowded again.
Oh, by the way, this year David Beckham became legitimately eligible for the US Soccer Hall of Fame.
Anyway, my ballot.
Carlos Valderrama Peter Vermes Mauricio Cienfuegos Marco Etcheverry Cindy Parlow Robin Fraser Shannon MacMillan Chris Armas Claudio Reyna
and, of course: