Six Fire alumni on 2005 ballot for National Soccer Hall of Fame

CHICAGO - The National Soccer Hall of Fame announced today the 2005 Ballot for election into the Hall of Fame. The announcement was made live on national television as Soccer Hall of Famer and former Fire great Eric Wynalda, a member of the Hall of Fame Class of 2004, presented and discussed the list on ESPNEWS' "The Hot List." Included on the list of the 53 eligible players are six former Chicago Fire players - Zak Ibsen, Frank Klopas, Peter Nowak, Francis Okaroh, Mike Sorber and David Vaudreuil - and former Chicago Sting legend Pato Margetic.

"The Fire is honored that so many of our former players have been nominated for the National Soccer Hall of Fame," said Fire President and GM Peter Wilt. "Chicago soccer fans have been treated to some great players over the years, and I am pleased that former Chicago Sting and Power great Pato Margetic is on the list as well. We are hopeful that there will be more Fire players to follow Eric Wynalda's induction from last year."

Of the 53 eligible players, the ballot includes 19 players eligible for the first time, including several players who starred for the U.S. National Team and were founding players for Major League Soccer. Marcelo Balboa, Mike Burns, John Harkes, Tab Ramos, and Peter Vermes are examples of these "founding fathers" that made MLS and U.S. Soccer what it is today. Top returnees to the ballot from 2004 are U.S. National Team stars Thomas Dooley and Hugo Perez, both of whom received 57% of the vote last year. Also on the ballot are several players from the 1991 and 1999 the world champion U.S. Women's National Team, such as Linda Hamilton, Mary Harvey, and Sara Whalen.

"The Hall of Fame is proud to send this ballot to the voters," Hall of Fame President/CEO Will Lunn stated. "In 2004 the Hall of Fame inducted its first class of players who played their careers in today's high visibility media world. This year's ballot continues that trend with the addition of several players who have played a major role in U.S. Soccer and MLS. The tradition of soccer in America is long, interesting but not well known. These stars provide us an opportunity to bring that wonderful tradition to today's soccer fans."

The election policies of the Hall of Fame state that two players will be elected to the Hall of Fame from this ballot as long as each receives a minimum of 50% of the vote. A third player may be elected if that individual receives a minimum of 80% of the vote. The following individuals are eligible to vote in the process: Media selected by the National Soccer Hall of Fame in conjunction with U.S. Soccer, Major League Soccer, and the Women's United Soccer Association; all current and past U.S. National Team coaches; MLS coaches with at least four years tenure as a head coach in the League; current members of the National Soccer Hall of Fame; and the Secretary General of U.S. Soccer and the Commissioner of MLS.

"Today's ballot has many players who have not only played their biggest matches on television, but have also been seen in various settings, as spokespersons for charities, local organizations, and commercial products," Jack Huckel, Hall of Fame Director of Communications, said. "For many years the players on the ballot were recognized as great players by those in soccer, but those players were out of the mainstream press and they did not have a media impact. U.S. Soccer and MLS have changed all that and we applaud their hard work in bringing these great athletes and great people before the American public."

Located in Oneonta, NY, the National Soccer Hall of Fame opened a 30,000 square foot, state-of-the-art museum in 1999. The Hall of Fame tells the story of soccer in America through artifacts, photographs, and video clips. The new Hall features an extensive interactive, youth oriented Kicks Zone where visitors have fun kicking, heading and playing computer trivia stations and video soccer games. The VideoWall portrays some of the greatest moments and the greatest goals in history as well as live soccer action with World Cup, MLS, and U.S. Soccer matches. Unique and rare artifacts on exhibit range from the world's oldest soccer ball to the FIFA Women's World Cup trophy won by the USA in 1999, Pele's and Mia Hamm's uniforms, Kristine Lilly's golden shoes, NASL championship rings, the original MLS championship trophy, MLS gallery - it's all at the National Soccer Hall of Fame. In addition to the interactive Museum, the National Soccer Hall of Fame complex boasts the Kicks Hall of Fame Museum Shop, a research library, four world-class soccer fields and office/meeting facilities. The Hall plans to add a stadium, an indoor soccer arena and housing facilities in the future.

Following are bios for the six former Fire players eligible for the Hall of Fame (last year of eligibility in parenthesis):

Zak Ibsen (2012) (last played in the APSL in 1994; last played in the NPSL in 1995; last played in the U.S. national team in 1996; last played in MLS in 2002). Played six seasons in MLS between 1996 and 2002 for New England, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Jose. MLS champion in 1998 with Chicago and in 2001 with San Jose. U.S. Open Cup champion in 1998 with Chicago. Played 15 full internationals for the United States between 1992 and 1996. MLS runner-up in 1999 with Los Angeles. Played one season in the APSL and one season in the NPSL. Played 140 MLS regular-season games and 21 MLS playoff games.

Frank Klopas (2009) (last played in the MISL in 1988; last played in the U.S. national team in 1995; last played professionally outside the United States 1995; last played in MLS in 1999). Played 40 full internationals for the United States between 1988 and 1995, including seven World Cup qualifiers in 1988 and 1989. Member of the United States teams at the 1988 Olympic Games and the 1994 World Cup. Played four seasons in MLS between 1996 and 1999 for Kansas City and Chicago. Played five seasons in the Greek first division and four seasons in the MISL. MLS champion and U.S. Open Cup champion in 1998 with Chicago. Perhaps best remembered for his game-winning goal against Columbus Crew in that 1998 Open Cup final. Played 89 MLS regular-season games and 10 MLS playoff games, respectfully. Also a member of the "Ring of Fire," becoming the second former player to be inducted into the Chicago Fire's own hall of fame in 2004.

Peter Nowak (2012) (last played in MLS in 2002). Played 114 MLS regular-season games and 20 MLS playoff games. Inaugural member of the "Ring of Fire," the Chicago Fire's Hall of Fame in 2003. His five years on the field for the Fire made him a fan favorite not only in Chicago, but around the entire league. During his half-decade playing career in MLS, Nowak accumulated 100 points on 26 goals and 48 assists. He led the expansion Fire to an MLS Cup championship in 1998 and U.S. Open Cup titles in 1998, 2000 and 2001. Three times each, he was an MLS All-Star (1998, 1999, 2000), a member of the MLS Pepsi Best XI (1998, 2000, 2001) and the Fire's MVP (1998, 2000, 2001). Nowak was also selected as the MVP of MLS Cup 1998.

Francis Okaroh (2010) (last played in the MISL in 1988; last played in the USISL in 1995; last played in MLS in 2000). Played five seasons in MLS between 1996 and 2000 for New England, Chicago and Miami. MLS champion in 1998 with Chicago. U.S. Open Cup champion in 1998 with Chicago. Played one season in the MISL and three seasons in the USISL. Played 114 MLS regular-season games and seven MLS playoff games.

Mike Sorber (2010) (last played professionally outside the United States in 1996; last played in the U.S. national team in 1998; last played in MLS in 2000). Played 67 full internationals for the United States between 1992 and 1998, including seven World Cup qualifiers in 1997 and four World Cup games in 1994. Member of the United States team at the 1994 World Cup. Played five seasons in MLS between 1996 and 2000 for Kansas City, MetroStars and Chicago. Played 116 MLS regular-season games and 12 MLS playoff games. Played two seasons in the Mexican first division.

David Vaudreuil (2012) (last played in the MISL in 1991; last played in the NPSL in 2001; last played in the A-League in 2001; last played in MLS in 2002). Played seven seasons in MLS between 1996 and 2002 with D.C., Miami, Colorado and Chicago. MLS champion in 1997 with D.C. U.S. Open Cup champion in 1996 with D.C. Played two seasons in the MISL, six seasons in the APSL/A-League and six seasons in the NPSL. U.S. Open Cup runner-up in 1997 with D.C. and 1999 with Colorado. Played 151 MLS regular-season games and 25 MLS playoff games.


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