Bradley, Lilly, McBride enter Hall of Fame

The three latest inductees into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame all fall into the “obvious” category.

Bob Bradley, Kristine Lilly and Brian McBride were officially acknowledged Saturday at the U.S. Soccer Annual General Meeting in San Francisco. Bradley, who coached the national team from 2007 to 2011, was inducted as a Builder, the category designated for coaches, executives and other non-playing positions. Lilly, the world’s all-time caps leader with 352, and McBride, who played for the USA in three World Cups, were admitted as Players.

Accompanying McBride on stage were his brother, Matt McBride, and former U.S. international and longtime teammate Kasey Keller. McBride scored 30 goals in 95 international appearances and during a long club career was twice named Fulham’s Player of the Year. He also played eight seasons in MLS with Columbus and finished his playing career with the Chicago Fire.

McBride’s fearlessness and courage in coming back from numerous facial injuries as well as a life-threatening blood clot in his right arm drew praise from U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati.

“The moment that so many people remember – aside from the great goals, and there were many of those, was playing through in Kaiserslautern after the head injury and blood, against Italy,” said Gulati of a memorable 1-1 tie in the 2006 World Cup.

In his speech, McBride, as he had promised, said little of himself and praised many others. He concluded his speech with a coda by which he forged a remarkable career: “There’s always going to be something you want to achieve. Make sure you don’t come up short because you didn’t put in the effort to reach that achievement. We can always improve, and we can always learn.”

Brian McBride:

Lilly was presented by her former coach at North Carolina, Anson Dorrance, and during her speech thanked and praised his influence during her college years as well as with the national team. Dorrance coached the U.S. women to the first FIFA Women’s World Championship in 1991.

“When I was 16 years old, you changed my life,” said Lilly. “You opened the door to a career that I never thought in a million years would lead me to this moment and so many other great moments. You took a chance on me, Julie [Foudy], Mia [Hamm] and Joy [Fawcett], four young kids, and you gave us a chance to see the world, work to be the best and show young girls that they can be the best at something.”

Lilly scored 130 goals for the women’s national team and helped them to two World Cup titles and two Olympic Gold medals. Her array of skills, endless energy and keen vision earned her a long run as USA captain and accolades as the best overall player in the world.

Said Foudy, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame along with Hamm in 2007, “To see ‘Lil’ inducted into the Hall of Fame is where she should be. She’s one of the greatest to ever play this game and she did it with such class and grace. She represents everything I would hope kids would watch and see, and want to be."

Kristine Lilly:

Coaching commitments with Norwegian club Stabaek prevented Bradley from attending the ceremonies. He won MLS titles as an assistant with D.C. United and as a head coach with Chicago prior to taking over the national team in 2007. Bradley guided the U.S. to a Gold Cup title, second place in the 2009 Confederations Cup, and first place in the Hexagonal en route to the 2010 World Cup and advancement to the second round. He coached the Egyptian national team for two years prior to taking the Stabaek job last year.

“Bob led a legacy of true commitment, and his record shows for itself,” said McBride. “He’s someone that has been so influential in so many of the players, having the chance to spend a little bit of the end of my career in Chicago and being there and seeing the tradition and honor -- that’s him. He not only did that for the Fire but for the United States national team.”

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