The Washington Post
Moreno, Payne are elected to soccer Hall of Fame
Two with United ties get in, but Solo again comes up short in voting
Two figures in D.C. United’s rise to early MLS prominence and two former national team defenders were elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame on Wednesday. However, Hope Solo, arguably the greatest goalkeeper in women’s history, fell short again.
Forward Jaime Moreno, one of two MLS players to amass 100 goals and 100 assists, and his former United boss, executive Kevin Payne, won tiebreakers on the veteran and builder ballots, respectively.
Solo, in her second attempt in the player category, finished behind Christie Pearce Rampone and Steve Cherundolo — a clear sign that, despite a sensational playing career, her off-field transgressions continue to haunt her. Given a revamped voting setup, however, Solo is almost certain of gaining admission next year.
Pearce Rampone was named on 93.8 percent of submitted ballots, followed by Cherundolo (89.6), Solo (85.4) and Shannon Boxx (83.3).
Solo, Boxx and Clint Dempsey, in his first year of eligibility next year, will become the 2022 favorites, when up to three players will be selected.
Solo, the U.S. goalkeeping leader in games and shutouts, was a four-time world keeper of the year who won a World Cup title and two Olympic gold medals in a 16-year career.
However, she also was arrested in 2014 for assault (the case was dismissed years later); expelled from the 2007 World Cup squad after fuming publicly about being benched; and often squabbled with former teammates, some of whom are Hall of Fame voters.
Under election guidelines adopted this year to ensure more new members, two players were certain of gaining admission. A third would get in if he or she were named on two-thirds of ballots and no one in the veteran or builder categories met the 50 percent threshold.
Recognizing additional adjustments were necessary, the Hall of Fame board already has approved changes in 2022 that would add a third player and second veteran should they appear on 75 percent of ballots (regardless of outcomes in other categories). If that rule were in place this year, Solo would have gotten in.
Until this year, any player meeting the two-thirds threshold gained entry. Last year, though, Carlos Bocanegra was the only one, continuing a trend of few newly elected figures.
Although Solo’s omission was glaring, there should be no quarrels about Pearce Rampone and Cherundolo gaining entry.
Pearce Rampone, 45, played 19 years for the national team and was a member of five World Cup squads. Her 311 appearances rank second behind Kristine Lilly (354), and she won two world titles and three Olympic gold medals.
Cherundolo, 42, remains among the most accomplished U.S. players overseas, having spent his entire 15-year career — the last 12 in the Bundesliga — with German club Hannover. His national team duty spanned 13 years and included 87 matches and two World Cups.
Moreno, from Bolivia, moved to the veteran ballot after seven unsuccessful bids in the player category. He is the first player inducted based exclusively on an MLS career.
In 15 seasons, all but one with United, Moreno was a six-time Best XI selection and key figure in all four D.C. titles (1996, 1997, 1999 and 2004). Moreno, 47, and Landon Donovan are the only MLS players with at least 100 regular season goals and assists.
Marco Etcheverry earned the same voting percentage (95.8), but Moreno, his former teammate on United and the Bolivian national team, was declared the winner because he received more preliminary points when the 25 veteran semifinalists were determined.
Kate Sobrero Markgraf was third (79.2).
Payne, 68, was United’s president and general manager for most of the club’s first 16 seasons.
His biggest move was hiring from the University of Virginia the club’s first coach, Bruce Arena, who won two MLS Cups before leading the U.S. national team for almost eight years.
Under Payne’s guidance, United advanced to the first four league finals, winning three.
In the voting, Payne tied with the late Clive Charles, a longtime coach, at 79.2 percent apiece but received more preliminary votes.
Moreno and Payne increase United’s Hall of Fame presence to seven, joining Arena and players Jeff Agoos, John Harkes, Eddie Pope and Earnie Stewart, a national team star who, late in his career, played two seasons in Washington.
The ceremony will take place Oct. 2 at the Hall of Fame in Frisco, Tex., a Dallas suburb. Bocanegra will also be honored after his ceremony was canceled amid the pandemic. Telemundo’s Andres Cantor, recipient of the 2020 Colin Jose Media Award, also will attend. No media award was given this year.