to be effective this year -- to include MLS players who have been retired for three years and played five years in the league, garnering at least one MLS Cup or U.S. Open Cup championship, or being named to the league's Best XI at least once.
Among the list of those players with MLS backgrounds, perhaps the leading candidate for selection this year is forward Eric Wynalda, who scored the first goal in MLS history on April 6, 1996, and went on to score a total of 34 goals and 105 points throughout six seasons in the league. Wynalda also holds the distinction of the being the all-time leader in goals scored for the U.S. national team, netting 34 in 106 appearances.
Another player considered a virtual lock is Michelle Akers. An addition to FIFA's list of the 125 greatest living players, she led the U.S. women's national team to two FIFA Women's World Cup titles and scored 105 goals in 153 career caps.
The third inductee could be another former MLS player, as Roy Wegerle, Paul Caliguiri and Thomas Dooley merit mention alongside such non-MLS players as Bruce Murray and Perry Van der Beck.
Caligiuri, who was capped 110 times in his international career, scored the famous "Goal heard 'round the world" -- the only goal in the USA's 1-0 victory against Trinidad & Tobago in Port-of-Spain which sent the U.S. to their first World Cup in 40 years. He also scored the USA's first World Cup goal in 40 years during the 1990 World Cup against Czechoslovakia and played six years in MLS with the Columbus Crew and Los Angeles Galaxy.
Both Wegerle and Dooley were figures in the U.S. rise on the international stage in the early to mid-'90s, and both appeared for the U.S. in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups. Wegerle also played for three years in MLS, while Dooley played for four years in the U.S. first division.
Murray staked his claim to a Soccer Hall spot in the early '90s, scoring 21 goals in 86 appearances between 1985 and 1993. Perhaps his most memorable tally came in the 1990 World Cup, when he scored against Austria. Van der Beck could be considered the Freddy Adu of his day, becoming the first player drafted out of high school by the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League in 1978. He was also named the U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year in 1985.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled to take place Columbus Day weekend, October 9-11, 2004 at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y.
2004 National Soccer Hall of Fame nominees:
Geoff Aunger (New England Revolution, 1996; D.C. United, 1998-2000; Colorado Rapids, 2001)
Brian Bliss (Columbus Crew, 1996-97; MetroStars, 1997; Kansas City Wizards, 1998)
Paul Bravo (San Jose Clash, 1996; Colorado Rapids, 1997-2001)
Paul Caligiuri (Columbus Crew, 1996; Los Angeles Galaxy, 1997-2001)
Jeff Causey (D.C. United, 1996-97; New England Revolution, 1997-2001)
Thomas Dooley (Columbus Crew, 1997-99; MetroStars, 2000)
John Doyle (San Jose Clash/Earthquakes, 1996-2000)
Eric Eichmann (Kansas City Wizards, 1996)
Mo Johnston (Kansas City Wizards, 1996-2001)
John Kerr, Jr. (Dallas Burn, 1996; New England Revolution, 1996-1997)
Frank Klopas (Kansas City Wizards, 1996-97; Chicago Fire, 1998-99)
John Maessner (D.C. United, 1996-97, 1999-2000; Miami Fusion, 1998-99; Tampa Bay Mutiny, 2000-01)
Uche Okafor (Kansas City Wizards, 1996-2000)
Francis Okaroh (New England Revolution, 1996-97; Chicago Fire, 1998-99; Miami Fusion, 2000)
Brandon Pollard (Dallas Burn, 1996-2000)
Mark Santel (Dallas Burn, 1996-2000; Kansas City Wizards, 2001)
Mark Semioli (Los Angeles Galaxy, 1996-97; MetroStars, 1997-2001)
Mark Simpson (D.C. United, 1996-2001)
Diego Sonora (Dallas Burn, 1996-97; MetroStars, 1998; D.C. United, 1999; Tampa Bay Mutiny, 2001)
Mike Sorber (Kansas City Wizards, 1996; MetroStars, 1997-99; Chicago Fire, 2000)
Steve Trittschuh (Colorado Rapids, 1996-98; Tampa Bay Mutiny, 1999-2001)
Perry Van der Beck
Roy Wegerle (Colorado Rapids, 1996-97; D.C. United, 1997-98; Tampa Bay Mutiny, 1998)
Eric Wynalda (San Jose Clash, 1996-98; Miami Fusion, 1999-2000; New England Revolution, 2000-01; Chicago Fire, 2001)
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.