Hall of Fame
2006 induction class includes Anschutz, Lalas, Overbeck and Trost.
ONEONTA, N.Y. (Monday, August 28, 2006) -- Former United States World Cup defenders Alexi Lalas and Carla Overbeck, Al Trost, a one-time U.S. men's captain and North American Soccer League midfielder and Philip Anschutz, the major financial force behind the advent of Major League Soccer, were inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame today.
| Philip Anschutz has been a major force in the growth and survival of Major League Soccer, at one time owning and operating six teams.
-- Photo provided by the National Soccer Hall of Fame --
Additionally, Anschutz was presented last night with the National Soccer Medal of Honor at the President's Dinner. The Hall awards the Medal of Honor to those who have changed the course of the sport in America.
"When I received the call from the Hall of Fame, I was excited that someone had finally thought enough of my playing ability to recognize me, because my teams certainly had not," joked Anschutz, who owns and operates Major League Soccer clubs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Houston since selling the MetroStars to Red Bull New York before the current season.
Lalas, 36, is the fifth member of the 1994 U.S. World Cup team to enter the Hall. With his long red hair and goatee, he became one of the most recognizable American players, eventually making 98 international appearances and playing in two Cups.
"My generation of players may get a little too much credit for the recent success of soccer. On behalf of my generation, I thank the Hall of Famers who have gone before me," Lalas said. "I was not the best player, but I knew what I was good at. Most of all, it was my passion for the game and my teammates that made me look good. I love putting on a show. I must thank the fans for being there because, whether they were cheering me or picking on me, they pushed me to perform and are a critical part of this game."
Off his performance in World Cup USA 94, Lalas became the first American to play in Italy's first division when he signed with Padova of Serie A, playing there between 1994 and 1996. He returned to the States when MLS began, eventually playing for four teams - the New England Revolution (1996-97), MetroStars (1998), Kansas City Wizards (1999) and Los Angeles Galaxy (2001-03).
| Alexi Lalas, here as a member of the MetroStars in 1998, was known for his flaming red hair and goatee.
-- File photo --
"Alexi's loyalty to those he played with is extraordinary," said U.S. Soccer Federation Sunil Gulato, who presented Lalas for induction. "He was the base of the league when he signed for Major League Soccer."
Currently the Galaxy president and general manager, Lalas also represented the U.S in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics. He was the 1991 Hermann Trophy winner at Rutgers, having led the school to the 1990 NCAA Division I championship and 1989 Final Four.
Overbeck, 38, part of the U.S.'s original crop of women's national-team stars, served as the on-field leader through 1991 and 1999 Women's World Cup titles and a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics, the first for women's soccer. The defender chipped in seven goals in 168 international appearances from 1988-2000.
| Carla Overbeck was part of the first crop of young stars for the U.S. women and she went on to be a leader of the team during its glory years.
-- File photo --
"Thank you to my teammates, my coaches, my parents, and my family, all of whom supported me as I strived to achieve my goals," she said. "Goals for myself and goals for the teams on which I played -- there is no way I would be here without you support."
Overbeck was one of two players to play every minute the 1995 Women's World Cup, 1996 Summer Olympics, and the 1999 WWC. The essence of dependability, she once started in 63 straight games.
"Carla set the standard for our team," said her former U.S. women's coach Tony DiCicco, her presenter. "No one wanted to deal with her when she was angry and she got angry when you didn't play full out. As captain, she was determined to make the team a family and, because of it, we were a better team."
During Overbeck's four years at University of North Carolina, the Tar Heels captured four NCAA championships. During the three years of the Women's United Soccer Association (2001-03), she played for the Carolina Courage, which took the 2002 crown.
Trost, a two-time winner of the Hermann Trophy at Saint Louis University in 1969 and 1970, went on to be a North American Soccer League All-Star durng seven years with the St. Louis Stars and captain of the U.S. national team in the 1970s. He earned 14 caps with the U.S. and played for the Olympic team in 1971-72, scoring two goals at the 1972 Munich Games.
"In playing throughout my career, I learned that a team needs to work together as a group to be successful as an individual," Trost said. "We are responsible. We can choose whether to serve or be served, whether to be selfish or selfless. We need to share our ability with the team so everyone will benefit form out hard labor."
| After earning the Hermann Trophy at Saint Louis University in 1969 and 1970, Al Trost played seven years for the St. Louis Stars of the old North American Soccer League.
-- National Soccer Hall of Fame photo --
Trost, who went on to be influential in the St. Louis soccer community, was introduced today by soccer broadcaster and former college teammate Bill McDermott.
"There is a statute to Stan Musial outside the stadium in St. Louis that states, 'Here stands baseball's perfect warrior.' When the statute is made for Al Trost, it will say 'Here stands soccer's perfect warrior,' " McDermott said. "The best description of Al is that he is the personification of the idea that the greatest among you is the one who serves the most."
Anschutz's organization has invested heavily in MLS and suffered substantial losses in the process. The Anschutz Entertainment Group has always owned and operated multiple teams in MLS's single-entity system. At one time he owned six teams in a 10-team league; currently he operates four clubs in MLS, which will expand to 13 teams in 2007.
Anschutz has also been instrumental to MLS's efforts to build soccer-specific stadiums. AEG built The Home Depot Center, home to his Los Angeles Galaxy and a model to others, while Anschutz's Chicago Fire recently opened Toyota Park in the suburb of Bridgeview.
"It's not just the stadiums, the teams and the unprecedented financial support," MLS commissioner Don Garber said. "It is his ongoing and relentless commitment to the heart and soul of this game. . . Phil's role has been the defining role, the transformative and singular contribution that has given the sport new purpose, credibility and permanence."
"Millions of soccer fans across the country will never have the chance to meet Phil Anschutz. They'll never see him on television or find him quoted in the newspaper. But each and every one of us will in some form or fashion be touched by his massive contributions to the game. And that is a legacy worthy of this rare and prestigious award."
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