By J Hutcherson (Aug 15, 2017) US Soccer Players - There are some obvious things we can all safely assume when it comes to American soccer. MLS will expand as long as there are people willing to pay the expansion fee. Foreign stars will normally say very nice things about the quality of American soccer. Somewhere on the internet someone is arguing about promotion and relegation for US club soccer. Steve Cherundolo is the best right back in USMNT history.
We also know that being the best right back in USMNT history isn't enough to get a player into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. According to reports, it's not even enough to get over 50% of the votes.
Do we really need to run through Cherundolo's resume in a USMNT shirt? The not at all minor items like the three World Cups, being a member of US Soccer's centennial Best XI, and the panic his absence caused whenever a game counted during his career? Or that he's the prototype for the American succeeding not just in a top European league, but sticking with the same club? It's tougher to argue against his candidacy than for it, something apparently lost on half of the people holding Hall of Fame votes.
I don't have a Hall of Fame vote. Less than six months after cashing my first check for covering American pro soccer, I got a ballot. I didn't turn it in. After awhile, they stopped sending me one. For me, it was simple. Why should someone with my limited experience be voting on memorializing entire careers? That's best left to the professional writers and pundits who have put in the time.
The National Soccer Hall of Fame didn't agree, and that's their choice. Unlike baseball where voting for the Hall of Fame is up to the rules of the writers guild, I've never seen published rules for how an American soccer writer gets a vote. Shocked looks, other writers didn't agree either. I was on an island with that one, not for the last time.
Back in the mid-2000s I helped work on re-forming the soccer writers guild. One of my goals was trying to get support for pushing the Hall of Fame to limit the voters. A writer who I respect argued that working for the players union should disqualify me from being in the guild. Fair enough, once again I disqualified myself . It's no secret then or now that I work for the players. 15 years in earlier this month. If anything, all that's done is stress the importance of what the Hall of Fame means to them.
Cherundolo's snub is ridiculous. It doesn't take much to see that if American soccer is not honoring his contributions with first ballot election to the Hall of Fame, there's something wrong.
MORE THAN HALF voters don't think Cherundolo, arguably top RB in US history w/ great Bundesliga career, should be in. WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE— Brian Straus (@BrianStraus) August 14, 2017
How quickly do we think Cherundolo would win election on a veteran ballot? How quickly do we think an electorate with a minimum of ten years of professional experience would've put him in?
Like with the other American pro sports, the National Soccer Hall of Fame's purpose is to remember, to honor. What's happened with the Soccer Hall is a strange dichotomy. They honor the original NASL to the extreme. The same courtesy doesn't apply to MLS where a generation of exceptional international players have no chance at election. Now, the voting isn't even honoring a player like Cherundolo at the first opportunity.
That's a hall of fame not serving its purpose.
J Hutcherson started covering soccer in 1999 and has worked as the general manager of the US National Soccer Team Players Association since 2002. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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