U.S. Soccer

Veteran Eligibility List

CRITERIA: A player can meet the Veteran eligibility criteria established by the Board of Directors of the National Soccer Hall of Fame by meeting No. 1, as well as either No. 2 or No. 3, as outlined below:

  1. Retired as a player for more than 10 years.
  2. Played at least 20 full international games for the United States. This requirement is reduced to 10 games if the games were prior to 1990.
  3. Played at least five seasons in an American first-division professional league and was selected as a league all-star at least once.

Players whose eligibility in the Player category has expired are automatically placed on the Veterans eligibility list. For purposes of the 2013 election, this means that they can have retired no later than 2002.

ABOUT THIS LIST: The following is the list of players that have met the criteria making them eligible to be candidates and have been selected by the Veteran Selection Committee to reach the final ballot.

All of the players on this list have been added via one of the following three processes:

  1. The records of the U.S. National Teams, Major League Soccer, the North American Soccer League and the American Soccer League where available have been studied to find players who meet the eligibility criteria via their play in the National Teams, the NASL or the ASL.
  2. Nominations for players from other pre-NASL leagues have been received by the National Soccer Hall of Fame. The records of these leagues have been studied where possible and other research efforts have been made by the Hall of Fame’s historians to determine whether the players in question meet the eligibility criteria.
  3. Players whose time on the eligibility list for the Hall of Fame’s regular selection procedure has expired.

The eligibility criteria were changed slightly by the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors in 2008. This list contains some players who do not meet the new criteria, but did meet the old criteria. They have been retained on this list, as the criteria change approved in 2008 specified that players already on the list would not be dropped as a result of the change.

PLEASE NOTE: The information listed here is not limited to the achievements that enabled a player to become eligible.

 

George Best
Last played in the NASL in 1981.

A forward-midfielder from Northern Ireland, one of the most famous players in the history of the game, who played six seasons in the NASL.

In the NASL, he played for Los Angeles in 1976, ‘77 and part of ‘78, for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in part of 1978 and all of ‘79, and for the San Jose Earthquakes in 1980 and ‘81.

Best played 139 NASL regular-season games and 11 NASL playoff games, in which he scored 57 goals. He may have been more famous in the NASL as a playmaker than as a goal scorer, with 60 assists in his NASL career. He was a first-team NASL all-star in 1976 and ‘77, a second-team All-Star in ‘81 and an honorable mention all-star in ‘78.

Best was capped 37 times by Northern Ireland, but gained his greatest fame as a star for Manchester United, for whom he played from 1961 to 1975.

Mike Burns
Last played professionally outside the United States in 1995; last played on the U.S. Men’s National Team in 1998; last played in MLS in 2002.

A defender who starred in both the U.S. Men’s National Team and MLS.

Burns’ 75 full internationals for the United States included two games at the 1998 World Cup and 11 games in World Cup qualifying in 1996 and ‘97. He also was a member of the United States squad at the 1994 World Cup, although he did not play any games, and at the 1992 Olympics.

Burns played seven seasons in Major League Soccer between 1996-02, for New England, San Jose and Kansas City, appearing in 169 regular-season games and six playoff games. He also played one season in the Danish first division.

Burns has served the New England Revolution in a number of front office positions since 2005, first as Director of Soccer, then as Vice President of Player Personnel and currently as General Manager.

Julio "Ringo" Cantillo
Last played in the ASL in 1977, last played in the NASL in 1983, last played on the U.S. Men’s National Team in 1982.

Midfielder who starred in the ASL, the NASL and the U.S. National Team in the 1970s and '80s.

Cantillo, who came to the United States from Costa Rica as a foreign-exchange student and began his ASL career while still in high school, won ASL most valuable player awards in 1972, '74 and '77, and ASL championships with the Cincinnati Comets in 1972 and the New Jersey Americans in 1977. He played his first NASL season in 1976 with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, returned to the ASL for a year and then played for the NASL's New England Tea Men, Jacksonville Tea Men and Team America from 1978-83. In his seven NASL seasons, he appeared in 174 regular-season games and eight playoff games. He also played one season in the MISL. He was an NASL North American all-star in 1980.

Cantillo played 11 games for the United States between 1979 and '82, including four World Cup qualifiers in 1980 and the game in which the United States upset Hungary in 1979.

Teofilo "Nene" Cubillas
Last played in the NASL in 1983; last played in the USL in 1986; last played in the ASL in 1989.

A Peruvian international star who played five seasons in the NASL between 1979-83 for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

Cubillas, a forward early in his career and a midfielder later, played 120 NASL regular-season games and 21 NASL playoff games, scoring 65 goals. In 1980, Cubillas was the leading goalscorer for the Fort Lauderdale team that were NASL runners-up that year. He was an NASL all-star in 1980 and ‘81, and a second-team All-Star in 1979 and ‘82. He played two seasons in the United Soccer League and two seasons in the ASL.

Cubillas was the star of the Peruvian National Team throughout the 1970s, including the teams that reached the final eight of the World Cup in both 1970 and ‘78. In 1982, he played for Peru in a third World Cup, becoming one of the few NASL players ever to appear in the World Cup during the league season.

John Doyle
Last played professionally outside the United States in 1993; last played on the U.S. National Team in 1994; last played in the APSL/A-League in 1995; last played in MLS in 2000.

A defender who was a national team mainstay in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Doyle made his debut in the National Team against Canada in 1987 and eventually played 53 full internationals for the United States, including four World Cup qualifiers in 1988 and ‘89 and two World Cup games in 1990. He had only four national team goals in those games, but one of them was the first goal in the United States’ 2-0 upset of Mexico in a 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal. He also played for the United States at the 1988 Olympic Games. Doyle, a tall, strong defender, was a key man in the stiffening of the United States defense for its game against Italy in the 1990 World Cup and also played in the landmark victory over Trinidad in 1989.

Doyle played most of his professional career in northern California, for the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks of the A-League and the San Jose Clash of MLS, although he also played one season in the Swedish first division and one in the German first division.

During his five MLS seasons, he played 132 regular-season games and three playoff games. He was an MLS All-Star and the MLS Defender of the Year in 1996.

Linda Hamilton
Last played on the U.S. National Team in 1995.

A defender who was a regular starter for the United States at both the 1991 and ‘95 World Cups, playing in 12 games in those World Cups.

Hamilton played a total of 71 full internationals for the United States, the first against China in 1987 and the last against Norway in 1995. In the 1991 Women’s World Cup in China, she came on as a substitute in the United States’ opening game and then started the last five American games on the road to winning Women’s World Cup. In the 1995 Women’s World Cup in Sweden, she started all six United States games. She also played four games for the United States in the qualifying tournament for the 1995 Women’s World Cup the year before.

Mary Harvey
Last played on the U.S. National Team in 1996.

The goalkeeper for the champion United States team at the 1991 Women's World Cup.

Harvey played a total of 27 full international games for the United States, the first against Poland in 1989 and the last against Australia in 1996. Harvey, who was one of the first American women to play professionally overseas, was one of the last players added to the United States roster for the 1991 World Cup, because she was playing in Germany for FSV Frankfurt. In that World Cup, she played every minute of the United States' six games, allowing only five goals and scoring three shutouts.

Harvey was also a member of the United States squad at the 1996 Olympic Games. She played five seasons in professional leagues in Germany and Sweden.

Lori Henry
Last played on the U.S. National Team in 1991.

A defender who was a member of the United States team at the first Women’s World Cup in 1991.

Henry played 39 full internationals for the United States, among them the first game ever played by the Women’s National Team. Her first full international was against Italy and 1985 and her last against Taiwan in 1991. Those 39 games included two in the 1991 Women’s World Cup.

Bill McPherson
Last played in the ASL in 1931; last played in the SLSL in 1934.

One of the leading players in the original American Soccer League of the 1920s and a winner of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup a total of seven times.

McPherson played 10 seasons in the original ASL, with the Fall River Marksmen and New Bedford Whalers, between 1922-31. With Fall River, he won the ASL championship five times, in 1924, ‘25, ‘26, ‘29 and ‘30. During those 10 ASL seasons, he played 366 ASL regular-season games and four ASL playoff games, the most by any player. He then added two more seasons in the St. Louis Soccer League, playing for Stix, Baer & Fuller in 1933 and ‘34, winning league titles in both of those years.

McPherson won Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles in both his New England and St. Louis years. He was a member of Fall River teams that won the cup in 1924, ‘27, ‘30 and ‘31, the New Bedford team that won in ‘32 and Stix & Baer & Fuller teams that won in ‘33 and ‘34. He was on the losing side in the cup final once, in ‘35 with Pawtucket Rangers.

Shep Messing
Last played in the NASL in 1979; last played in the MISL in 1987.

A flamboyant NASL-era goalkeeper who succeeded in attracting considerable attention to soccer with his off-the-field activities. A Harvard graduate, Messing wrote an autobiographical book, The Education of an American Soccer Player, which told much of his life as a pro soccer player.

Messing had quite a bit of on-the-field success, too. He never won a full international cap, but he was a goalkeeper for the United States at the 1972 Olympic Games in West Germany. He played seven seasons in the NASL and was the goalkeeper for the New York Cosmos in 1976 and their NASL title season of ‘77. Messing played 119 NASL regular-season games and nine NASL playoff games. He broke into the NASL with the Cosmos in 1973 and ‘74 and then played for the Boston Minutemen in ‘75 and part of ‘76, the Cosmos again in part of ‘76 and all of ‘77, the Oakland Stompers in ‘78 and the Rochester Lancers in ‘79.

Messing also played extensively indoors, including eight seasons in the Major Indoor Soccer League.

He was also interim head coach of the New York Arrows of the NASL for part of 1983.

Glenn Myernick
Last played on the U.S. National Team in 1979; last played in the MISL in 1980; last played in the NASL in 1984. Head coach in MLS for four seasons.

A defender who played eight seasons in the North American Soccer League.

Myernick played in the NASL from 1976-84 for the Dallas Tornado, the Portland Timbers and the Tampa Bay Rowdies, appearing in 163 NASL regular-season games and five NASL playoff games. He also played one season in the Major Indoor Soccer League. He played 10 full internationals for the United States, the first against El Salvador in 1977 and the last against France in ‘79.

Myernick later was a head coach of the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer for four seasons, leading them into the playoffs each year. Myernick also served as an assistant coach on the Men’s National Team from 2002-06 during both the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups.

John "Harp" O'Connell
Last played in the ASL in 1956, last played on the U.S. National Team in 1954.

American Soccer League and U.S. National Team defender in the 1940s and '50s.

O'Connell played 10 seasons in the ASL between 1946 and '56 for Brooklyn Wanderers, New York Americans and New York Hakoah. He was named the ASL most valuable player in 1948 and ‘49, both years when he was with New York Americans, and was a star of the New York Americans team that won the "double" in 1954, taking both the ASL and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championships.

O'Connell played four full internationals for the United States, including two World Cup qualifiers against Mexico in 1954 and the game against Scotland before 107,765 in Glasgow in 1952.

Mike Sorber
Last played on the U.S. National Team in 1998; last played in the MLS in 2000.

A midfielder who started all four games for the United States at the 1994 World Cup.

Sorber played 67 full internationals for the United States, the first against the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1992 and the last against Paraguay in 1998. After having been a regular in the U.S. team at the 1994 World Cup, he played seven of the United States’ 10 World Cup qualifiers in 1997. He also played for the United States in the 1995 Copa America and the 1996 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Sorber played five seasons in Major League Soccer, for Kansas City, MetroStars and Chicago, and played 116 regular-season games and 12 playoff games. Before the start of MLS, he played two seasons in the Mexican first division.

Carlos Valderrama
Last played in MLS in 2002.

A Colombian midfielder who was one of the leading stars of MLS's early seasons.

Valderrama played seven seasons in MLS between 1996 and 2002 for Tampa Bay, Miami and Colorado. He was chosen as an MLS All-Star in 1996, ‘97 and 2000 and was the MLS Most Valuable Player in 1996. During his MLS career, he played 148 MLS regular-season games and 12 MLS playoff games.

Valderrama was perhaps the best-known of several international stars attracted to MLS in its inaugural season. He had captained Colombia in the 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cups.

Peter Vermes
Last played in the ASL in 1988; last played professionally outside the United States in 1992; last played in the NPSL in 1997; last played on the U.S. National Team in 1997; last played in MLS in 2002.

A forward in the U.S. National Team early in his career who later was an outstanding defender in MLS.

Vermes played 67 full internationals for the United States between 1988-97, including eight of the United States’ 10 World Cup qualifiers in 1988 and 1989 and all three of its World Cup games in 1990. He scored a key goal in the United States’ landmark victory in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 1991 and was U.S. Soccer’s Male Athlete of the Year in 1988.

Vermes was among the first American professional players in Europe, starting in 1988, playing one season in the Hungarian first division, one season in the Dutch first division and one season in the Spanish second division.

He played seven seasons in MLS between 1996 and 2002 for MetroStars, Colorado and Kansas City and won an MLS championship with Kansas City in 2000, a season in which he also was chosen as an MLS all-star and the league’s outstanding defender.

Vermes played 184 MLS regular-season games and 25 MLS playoff games. Besides his years in MLS and Europe, he also played one season in the ASL and one season in the NPSL.

In 2009, while in his third season as technical director of the Kansas City Wizards in MLS, he also became head coach of the team.

 

Definitions & Clarifications:

Winning the league championship: The player played on the winning team in the championship game, series, or in at least one victory during seasons when there was no league final and the champion was decided by the league standings.

Winning the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup: The player played on the winning team in the championship game or series.

NASL all-star: First-Team All-star, Second-Team and Honorable Mention selection are listed in the non-italicized part of the biography.

NASL North American All-Star: The team selected by the Professional Soccer Reporters Association.
MLS all-star means selection to the postseason MSL Best XI.

References to "predecessors" of the APSL refer to the third American Soccer League and the Western Soccer Alliance/Western Soccer League, which merged in 1990 to form the APSL.

In many pre-NASL leagues, all-star teams were not chosen. In those instances, winning a league MVP award or a league goal scoring title is considered sufficient to fulfill the all-star requirement.

Prior to 1968 some of the various regional leagues that are recognized here include the American Soccer League, the North American Soccer Football League, the German-American Soccer League of New York, the National Soccer League of Chicago, the St. Louis Soccer League, the Keystone League of Western Pennsylvania, the Greater Los Angeles Soccer League, the San Francisco Soccer League and the National Association Foot Ball League.