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U.S. Soccer Foundation awards over $100,000 to aid Gulf Coast recovery.

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

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

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


Hall of Fame

Lalas, Overbeck are voted in as Class of 2006.

Brent Clements
Alexi Lalas, shown here as a member of the 1999 MetroStars, was known for his flaming red hair and goatee.
-- File photo --
ONEONTA, N.Y. (Saturday, May 6, 2006) -- Defenders Alexi Lalas and Carla Overbeck, veterans of United States World Cup efforts, have been elected for entrance into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

The two players will be inducted into the Hall during ceremonies here August 28. Additionally, others could be inducted in the Veteran's and Builder's categories with results announced later this month.

"Alexi and Carla were tremendous players and both played important roles in the sport's history as key members of U.S. teams that made an impact on the world stage," Hall president Will Lunn said in a statement. "In addition to outstanding play in (Major League Soccer), Alexi was one of a small group of elite players who raised the bar for the (U.S. men) in international competition. His header to help beat England in 1993 sent notice to the world that 'the Americans were coming.' And Carla was key for the U.S. to become two-time (Women's) World (Cup) champions and Olympic gold medalists. She helped set the world standard for the women's game."

Lalas was received 95 votes (84.07 percent) and Overbeck 85 votes (75.22 percent) among ballots cast by members of the soccer media, Hall of Famers, U.S. national team and MLS coaches, and soccer administrators from across the country. Thomas Dooley, a 1994 and 1998 U.S. World Cup veteran, finished third with 71 votes (62.83 percent), but for a third player to be elected to the Hall, he or she would have to have to have been named on a minimum of 80 percent of the ballots.

Rounding out the top 10 vote-getters were Bruce Murray (62 votes, 54.87 percent), Carlos Valderrama (56, 49.56 percent), Hugo Perez (50, 44.25 percent), Peter Vermes (40, 35.4 percent), Desmond Armstrong (36, 31.86 percent), Mauricio Cienfuegos (34, 30.09 percent) and Peter Nowak (28, 24.78 percent).

Lalas-Wynalda
Alexi Lalas (left), here representing the Eastern Conference, battles Eric Wynalda in the first MLS All-Star Game in 1996. Lalas will join Wynalda (Class of 2004) in the National Soccer Hall of Fame when he is inducted August 28.
-- File photo --

Each voter was asked to vote for up to 10 players on his or her ballot, which included 57 eligible players, most of whom starred for the U. S. men or women, or were founding players for MLS or the Women's United Soccer Association.

Lalas, who will turm 36 on June 1, is currently president and general manager of MLS's Los Angeles Galaxy. He played in the 1994 World Cup in the central defense, paired with 2005 Hall of Fame inductee Marcelo Balboa, and also was on the 1998 Cup roster, though he did not play.

Lalas, with his wild red hair and distinctive goatee, occasionally controversial or flippant responses to interview questions, and his rock band, became one of the most recognized member of the 1994 squad, which included three other members of the Class of 2005 -- midfielders Fernando Clavijo, John Harkes and Tab Ramos -- and two members of the Class of 2004 -- defender Paul Caligiuri and striker Eric Wynalda.

The 1994 team tied Switzerland 1-1 in its opening Cup game, defeated Columbia 2-1 and lost 1-0 to Romania in group play, surprising many by advancing to the Round of 16 where it dropped a 1-0 decision to eventual champion Brazil. Lalas and Balboa turned in heroic performances in that setback.

Lalas, who made 96 appearances for the U.S. men, scoring nine goals, was also a member of the 1992 U. S. Olympic team and was one of the first signings for MLS in advance of its inaugural 1996 season. He began his MLS career with the New England Revolution and went on to play for the MetroStars, Kansas City Wizards, and Los Angeles, where he enjoyed his greatest success. After retiring for the 2000 season, Lalas returned to the Galaxy in 2001 with the team capturing the Lamar Hunt U. S. Open Cup title that year and the MLS Cup championship in 2002.

Carla Overbeck
Carla Overbeck (right) hoists the 2002 WUSA championship trophy with Carolina Courage teammate Tiffany Roberts.
-- File photo --

Lalas went on to be president and general manager of the San Jose Earthquakes in 2003 and moved in 2005 to a similar job with the MetroStars, who were sold and became the New York Red Bulls before the 2006 season. Lalas left the Red Bulls front office to take over as president and general manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy on April 17.

Lalas graduated from Rutgers University where he was a three-time All-America and the 1991 Hermann Trophy winner as the top collegiate player. He was named the U.S. Soccer Federation's "Male Athlete of the Year" award in 1995.

Overbeck (nee Werden), a central defender, played every minute for the U.S. women on the 1991 and 1999 Women's World Cup championship sides and the 1996 Summer Olympics gold medalists, and also went the distance in each of the six matches on the 1995 WWC third-place team. She was captain and netted the first penalty kick in the 5-4 tiebreaker victory over China following the 0-0 draw in the 1999 WWC final before a sellout of 90,125 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Overbeck, who turns 38 on Tuesday, joins four teammates from the 1991 championship team in the Hall -- April Heinrichs, the first woman to be inducted in Oneonta in 1998, Carin Gabarra (nee Jennings), part of the Class of 2000, Shannon Higgins-Cirovski (2002) and Michelle Akers (2004).

Carla Overbeck
Carla Overbeck appeared 168 times for the U.S. women, including starting 63 straight games.
-- File photo --
Overbeck went on to make 168 appearances for the U.S. women, recording seven goals. Before that, she played on four NCAA championship teams at North Carolina.

Starting with a 3-0 decision over New Zealand in New Hyde Park, N.Y., on August 4, 1993, Overbeck played in 63 straight U.S. matches, a record for and American woman or man. The last game of the streak was the 2-1 triumph over China August 1, 1996, in the Olympics gold-medal match in Athens, Ga.

A finalist for the 1995 Women's Sports Foundation "Athlete of the Year" in a group that included Bonnie Blair, Steffi Graf, Picabo Street, and Rebecca Lobo, Overbeck was a founding player in the Women's United Soccer Association, leading the Carolina Courage to the 2002 championship.

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