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Hunt is honored at annual U.S. Soccer Federation banquet.

Ramos, Harkes, Balboa lead Hall of Fame induction of 11.


Hall of Fame

Lalas, Lassiter, Venturini-Hoch, Overbeck, are added to 2006 ballot.

Lalas-Wynalda
Alexi Lalas (left), here representing the Eastern Conference and battling Eric Wynalda in the first MLS All-Star Game in 1996, is considered a leading candidate to be voted into the National Hall of Fame Class of 2006. Wynalda was inducted in 2004.
-- MLS photo --
By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

(Wednesday, March 8, 2006) -- Former Major League Soccer and United States men's defender Alexi Lalas and striker Roy Lassiter, and one-time U.S. women's and Women's United Soccer Association defender Carla Overbeck and midfielder Tisha Venturini-Hoch stand out among a group of 10 players who are eligible for the first time for induction into the National Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y.

The new additions bring to 57 the number of former men's and women's players eligible for entry into the Hall this year. The 2006 Induction Weekend will be held August 26-28.

El Salvador native and former MLS midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos, defenders Mike Clark and Chad McCarty, and goalkeeper Tom Presthus are new on the ballot, as are U.S. women's and WUSA midfielders Jena Kluegel and Nikki Serlenga are also new on the ballot.

The top two voter-getters gain admittance if they are named by at least half of the voters. A third player can earn election in the same year if he or she is named on at least 80 percent of the ballots.

Lamar Hunt
Carla Overbeck was captain of the U.S. team that captured the Women's World Cup in 1999
-- U.S. Soccer Federation photo --
In 2005, three U.S. World Cup veterans who were also MLS stars for many years, beginning with the league's inaugural 1996 season, gained admission by easily exceeding 80 percent of the 123 votes - Defender Marcelo Balboa and midfielder Tab Ramos, who each received 108 votes (87.8 percent) and midfielder John Harkes with 107 votes (86.99 percent).

U.S. men's defender-midfielder Thomas Dooley and striker Hugo Perez received more than 50 percent of possible votes in 2005. Dooley was named on 72 ballots (58.54 percent) and Perez on 62 (50.41) percent.

Perez is in his last year of eligibility, as are Desmond Armstrong, Eric Eichmann, Bruce Murray, Mary Harvey and Perry Van der Beck. If they fail to make the Hall this year, they are referred to the Veteran's Committee and possible later induction.

There is also the "builders" category for induction, established to include those who have made major contributions to the growth and well-being of the American game.

There are three criteria determining eligibility for a recently retired player. The candidate must be retired as a player for at least three years, but for no more than 10 years. Then, he or she must have played at least 20 full international games for the U.S., or must have played at least five seasons in an American first-division professional league and won the league championship, won the U.S. Open Cup or been a league All-Star at least once.

Mauricio Cienfuegos
Mauricio Cienfuegos' 80 assists are sixth all time in MLS.
-- MLS photo --
Players who meet the above criteria but have been retired for more than 10 years can be voted in by the Veterans Committee. Players from 1990 or before need only to have played 10 international matches

Midfield great Marco Etcheverry, who led D.C. United to three championships in MLS's first four years and whose 101 assists are fourth most in league history, retired from American soccer in 2003. He would have been eligible for this year's ballot except he returned to his native Bolivia and played professionally for half a season, said Jack Huckel, the Hall's Director of Museum and Archives.

Ballots are distributed to media selected by the Hall; all living Hall of Famers; present and former U.S. national-team coaches; MLS coaches with four or more years of tenure; and U.S. Soccer Federation and MLS executives at the Hall's choosing.


There are the player on the 2006 Hall of Fame ballot:

Desmond Armstrong
Geoff Aunger
Brian Bliss
Paul Bravo
Mike Burns
Jeff Causey
Mauricio Cienfuegos
Mike Clark
Thomas Dooley
John Doyle
Tracy Ducar
Ted Eck
Eric Eichmann
Richard Farrer
Adam Frye
Wendy Gebauer
Mario Gori
Mary Harvey
Zak Ibsen
Mo Johnston
Debbie Keller
John Kerr, Jr.
Dominic Kinnear
Frank Klopas
Jena Kluegel
Alexi Lalas
Mike Lapper
Roy Lassiter
John Maessner
Holly Manthei
Pato Margetic
Chad McCarty
Matt McKeon
Janusz Michallik
Bruce Murray
Peter Nowak
Uche Okafor
Francis Okaroh
Carla Overbeck
Hugo Perez
Brandon Pollard
Tom Presthus
Mark Santel
Mark Semioli
Nikki Serlenga
Mark Simpson
Diego Sonora
Mike Sorber
Steve Trittschuh
Carlos Valderama
Perry Van der Beck
David Vaudreuil
Tisha Venturini
Peter Vermes
Robert Warzycha
Roy Wegerle
Sara Whalen

Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent. E-mail Robert Wagman.

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