Former MLS legends Clint Dempsey, Robbie Keane and Brad Evans join US women’s national team alumna Yael Averbuch as first-year eligible candidates for the National Soccer Hall of Fame, it was announced Tuesday.
They are among 175 people named across three groupings – Player Eligibility List, Veteran Eligibility List and Builder Eligibility List – although there will be a maximum of six elected into the National Soccer Hall of Fame's Class of 2022.
The Players list includes 16 finalists from last year: Hope Solo, Shannon Boxx, Josh McKinney, Lauren Cheney Holiday, David Beckham, Heather Mitts, Lori Chalupny, Keith Johnson, Aly Wagner, Cat Reddick Whitehill, Pablo Mastroeni, Oguchi Onyewu, Shalrie Joseph, Kevin Hartman, Thierry Henry and Josh Wolff.
Mitts, Wagner, Wolff and Jeff Cunningham are in their final year of eligibility on the Player ballot. If not elected, they would move to the Veteran ballot for the 2023 election.
Dempsey was a two-time MLS Best XI selection in a nine-year MLS career that included a start with the New England Revolution, where he was named MLS Rookie of the Year in 2004, and ended with the Seattle Sounders, where he won an MLS Cup and US Open Cup.
Dempsey also played eight seasons in the Premier League, for Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur, scoring 72 goals across all competitions during his time in England.
Internationally, Dempsey was one of the US men’s national team's greatest goalscorers, tied with Landon Donovan at the time of his retirement with a USMNT-best 57 career goals in his 141 appearances.
Keane is arguably the greatest Designated Player signing in league history, earning four MLS Best XI selections in his six seasons with the LA Galaxy.
The former Republic of Ireland international scored 92 goals in 146 MLS matches – regular season and playoffs – and helped lead the Galaxy to MLS Cup titles in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Evans played for the Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders across an 11-year MLS career in which he won a pair of MLS Cups and three US Open Cup crowns. He also made 27 appearances for the USMNT, including five World Cup Qualifiers in 2013.
Averbuch won three league championships in eight seasons of first division American soccer, playing in 138 regular-season games and seven playoff matches. The midfielder also made 26 appearances for the USWNT.
The Hall of Fame’s Screening Committees will narrow the Player, Veteran and Builder ballots before they and other members of the Voting Committees vote on the Final Ballot, electing a maximum of six new Hall of Fame members – as many as three Players and two Veterans can be selected, along with one Builder.