CARSON, Calif. - (Wednesday, May 5, 2004) - Former U.S. Women’s National Team captain Michelle Akers, along with Men’s National Team standouts Paul Caligiuri and Eric Wynalda were elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame this afternoon during a press conference at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The three former U.S. National Team players each received at least 89 percent of the votes cast and were presented with individual Hall of Fame jerseys by President and CEO Will Lunn as a symbol of the honor.
Forward - 1985-2000 - 153 caps/105 Goals
Michelle Akers begin her illustrious career with the U.S. Women’s National Team by scoring in the team's first game in 1985. Through the course of her career and, as a direct result of her high-energy intimidating style, the U.S. won the first FIFA World Cup in 1991, the third FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1999, and the first Olympic Gold Medal in Women’s Soccer at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Her 105 national team goals include the winning goal in the 1991 FIFA Championship and the clinching penalty against Brazil in the 1999 FIFA World Cup semifinal. For the last eight years of her career she battled Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, an affliction that, for many people, leads to an inability to complete any physical exertion, never mind participate in soccer at the highest level. In 2000 Michelle received FIFA’s Player of the Century award for women. She was the Chevrolet Women's Athlete of the Year in 1990, 1991 and 1999.
Defender - 1984-1997 - 110 Caps/5 Goals
Paul Caligiuri rose from his defender position to icon in 1989 when his looping volley from 35 yards found the back of the net against Trinidad & Tobago on November 19, 1989 in the deciding game for 1990 World Cup qualification. That goal ensured the qualification of the U.S. to its first World Cup since the historic performance in 1950. Though this one event overshadows much of Paul’s career, he had a remarkable international career for the U.S., beginning when he was a UCLA undergraduate and included play in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups. He played all but 18 minutes of the seven matches those two tournaments, a true testament to his place among the elite of U.S. Soccer. In 1986, he was named the Chevrolet Male Athlete of the Year and was the first American named to a FIFA World All-Star team. He was one of the first U.S. players to play in the German Bundesliga and had a six-year MLS career in Major League Soccer with the Columbus Crew and the Los Angeles Galaxy, winning the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Championship in his final Galaxy match in 2001.
Forward - 1990-2000 - 106 Goals/24 Goals
Eric Wynalda beginning his national team career in 1990 and he concluded it in 1998 as the all-time leading scorer with 34 goals. Among those goals was the first scored by an American in the World Cup on U.S. soil, an outrageous free kick from 35 yards in the first round of 1994 against Switzerland. He was named the Cheverolet Male Athlete of the Year in 1996 after leading the team with nine goals, tying Joe-Max Moore for the U.S. record for goals in one year. Eric broke ground in Germany as an American forward, the first to secure a first choice place in a major European league while at Saarbrucken. His MLS career included stints with the San Jose Earthquakes (then Clash), the New England Revolution and the Chicago Fire. A serious knee injury left him little choice but to leave the game as a player in 2001. In the first MLS game, he bent shot to the far post on April 6, 1996 – the first goal in the league’s history.
The Hall of Fame instituted a new voting process beginning in 2004. In conjunction with U.S. Soccer, Major League Soccer, and the Women’s United Soccer Association, the Hall of Fame selected media voters from across the country to receive ballots. The process also includes voting rights for those First Division professional coaches with four or more years’ tenure, current and former U.S. National Team coaches and national soccer executives.
The election rules of the Hall of Fame are:
1) The two players with the most votes will be elected as long as each receives more than 50 percent of the votes cast, and
2) A third player may be elected as long as that player receives at least 80 percent of the votes cast.
In 2004 the Hall of Fame received 73 ballots. The top ten players and ties on the ballot were:
Michelle Akers 70 votes 95.9%
Eric Wynalda 68 votes 93.2%
Paul Caligiuri 65 votes 89.0%
Thomas Dooley 42 votes 57.5%
Hugo Perez 42 votes 57.5%
Bruce Murray 33 votes 45.2%
Roy Wegerle 23 votes 31.5%
Fernando Clavijo 20 votes 27.4%
Mary Harvey 14 votes 19.2%
Desmond Armstrong 12 votes 16.4%
Chico Borja 12 votes 16.4%
John Doyle 12 votes 16.4%
Mike Sorber 12 votes 16.4%
In all, 32 of the 38 players on the ballot received votes. Players who meet the Hall of Fame eligibility criteria remain on the ballot. Once a player has completed the 7-year eligibility period, the player is eligible for election via the Veteran’s Ballot.
The Hall of Fame elections for a Veteran Player and Builder are ongoing. Announcement of the results of those elections are tentatively scheduled for later in May or early June.