September 14, 2010
By Charles Cuttone
Hall ballot will be interesting in 2014
In the 15 years or so that I have been on the National Soccer Hall of Fame voting panel, I can’t recall a year where we will have as many apparent “shoo-in” candidates as there will be in 2014.
Look at the list of players that are retiring this year, putting them on the ballot for the first time that year: Brian McBride, Jaime Moreno, Brandi Chastain, Brianna Scurry, Steve Ralston and Mike Petke.
Soccer doesn’t quite have the same hot stove league quality that baseball does, where the talk about Hall of Famers centers around their merits as first ballot candidates, meaning they go in in their first year of eligibility.
But like everything else we have seen with the soccer culture in this country, things evolve, change and grow. Hey, 20 years ago, who would have thought bars across the country would be crowded at 10 am to watch World Cup games, or that public plazas in major cities would be packed with mid-day crowds watching games.
That’s what makes that upcoming Hall of Fame ballot so enticing. It’s a real first. There should be debate among those of us who vote. Who is a first-ballot Soccer Hall of Famer and who isn’t. One factor is that current voting rules limit the number of candidates that can be voted in on the players ballot in any given year. Baseball doesn’t have such restrictions, so if Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mariano Riveira all appeared on the ballot for the first time in the same year, there is no restriction on how many could be enshrined.
So the question is, who gets in and who gets votes, but doesn’t get in?
So, a little early, here is my ballot for the 2014 Soccer Hall of Fame elections: Brian McBride, Brandi Chastain, Jaime Moreno and Brianna Scurry. Voters can name up to ten players on their ballot. I very rarely vote for more than four or five.
McBride is a no-brainer. In a 17-year career, McBride played in three World Cups, was selected to MLS’ All-Time Best XI and scored 30 goals in 95 appearances for the U.S. Men’s National Team from 1993-2006.
Chastain probably goes in first-ballot that year as well. Chastain had 192 caps with the U.S National Team, she was a part of two World Cup winners and won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She is probably best remembered for her iconic gesture after scoring the winning penalty kick at the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final, ripping off her shirt in celebration.
If there is a third player to go in, and it is possible under the Hall’s quirky voting rules, it should be Moreno. The all-time leading scorer in MLS, he is the only player with more than 100 goals and 100 assists. He has had a hand in every trophy United has won, and is the only original MLS player to spend his entire career with one team. He may or may not be on the ballot in 2014, since, while he is leaving MLS, he hopes to continue playing in Bolivia.
If Moreno is not on the ballot, Scurry should get the nod as the third enshrinee. Scurry was in goal for the United States when they won the 1999 Women’s World Cup, making the save that set up Chastain’s championship-winning kick. Scurry played in 173 matches for the U.S. and was on Olympic Gold Medal winning teams in 1996 and 2004. She played three seasons with the Atlanta Beat in the WUSA and the last two with the Washington Freedom in Women’s Professional Soccer, mostly as a backup.