NEW YORK – Voting for the 2011 class of the National Soccer Hall of Fame has kicked off and there is a strong chance it could wind up being an all-MLS class based on the names that are up for election in three different categories: Player, Veteran and Builder.
The “Player” ballot features 25 names including five new additions, who are all MLS legends and former US national team players in their first year of eligibility: Chris Armas, Cobi Jones, Jason Kreis, Carlos Llamosa and Eddie Pope. Kreis is the current head coach of Real Salt Lake while Carlos Llamosa is a current assistant at Chivas USA.
These newcomers are in competition with several other important figures from the early years of MLS: Mike Burns, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Raúl Díaz Arce, Marco Etcheverry, Robin Fraser, Chris Henderson, Roy Lassiter, Joe-Max Moore, Peter Nowak, Carlos Valderrama and Peter Vermes. Three are current MLS head coaches (Fraser, Nowak and Vermes) while two are technical directors (Burns and Henderson).
Also in the running are former indoor goalkeeper Victor Nogueira, five former women’s national team players, two Americans who started in Holland and made it to MLS (Earnie Stewart and John O’Brien) and Steve Trittschuh, who is in his last attempt to make it in the Hall of Fame as a player before getting moved to the Veteran ballot.
Any player appearing on at least 66.7 percent of ballots will be enshrined.
The 2011 edition of the “Veteran” ballot consists of 10 former players, of which the most recognizable among fans will be current San Jose Earthquakes general manager John Doyle, New York Red Bulls broadcaster Shep Messing and former Colorado Rapids manager Glenn “Mooch” Myernick.
World greats George Best (Wales) and Teófilo Cubillas (Peru), who starred in the NASL, are also still in the running for a place in the Hall in this “Veteran” category. The top vote-getter with at least 50 percent of the ballots earns induction.
The MLS hopefuls of the seven individuals on the “Builder” ballot are current Seattle Sounders manager Sigi Schmid and Bob Gansler, who led Kansas City to the 2000 MLS Cup. Here, too, the top vote-getter with at least 50 percent of the ballots enters the Hall of Fame.
Voting in all three categories by a predetermined pool of voters runs through March 11 and results will be announced this spring.
Although the National Soccer Hall of Fame is no longer housed in a permanent headquarters, the elections have continued under the auspices of the US Soccer Federation. The 2010 induction ceremony was conducted at the New Meadowlands Stadium in conjunction with the international match between the USA and Brazil.