The new National Soccer Hall of Fame opened Saturday in Frisco, Texas. Following the ribbon-cutting, the six members of the Class of 2018 were inducted. Here are the stories they told ...
Don Garber was recruited from the NFL to become MLS commissioner in 1999 by the NFL owners of the struggling league. In 2001, Mark Abbott and Garber flew to Colorado to
meet with owners at Phil Anschutz's ranch to discuss their options, which included folding MLS. The owners told Garber and Abbott that they would continue if they presented them a plan to turn the
league around. In the short term, that meant contracting the league to 10 teams by folding the two Florida teams, Miami and Tampa Bay. The plan included the formation of Soccer United Marketing,
construction of new soccer stadiums and acquisition of star players. Today MLS has 23 teams with 26 planned for the 2020 season.
"I can tell you it wasn't always smooth sailing. In
2001, we sat around a table at Phil's ranch and talked really seriously about shutting down this league. But rather than be another failed American soccer league that really had us concerned it
would not get re-launched, they doubled, they tripled, they quadrupled down. And I always believed that what motivates me as a man, you sometimes have to be at your best when you just can't get any
Dr. Robert Contiguglia played soccer at Columbia and later moved to Denver, where he was a
nephrologist. He became involved in youth soccer when he began coaching his son and still coaches boys soccer today. He served as U.S. Soccer president for two terms (1998-2006) and on the board of
directors for 28 years. His introduction to the federation came in 1983 when he was elected president of the Colorado Youth Soccer Association and attended his first AGM in Dallas.
entered the meeting room. There were beer can pyramids on the table and the crowd was unruly. The federation was out of money and counted on USOC funding for programming. The national teams were
underfunded. The youth organizations and the women's game were in their infancy. The coaching and refereeing programs had barely begun. There was tension with the pros, and the athletes had no vote.
And since there was a three-person staff in the Empire State Building, most of the programs of the U.S. Soccer Federation were managed by volunteers. In addition, at that AGM a person running for
national office had just gotten out of jail. I asked myself, What had I gotten myself into."
Brad Friedel (Player)
Goalkeeper Brad Friedel represented the USA at three World
Cups -- leading it the quarterfinals in 2002 -- and two Olympics, but he is best remembered for his long club career in Europe. He holds the EPL record for consecutive starts, playing 310 games, which
spanned eight years and three clubs. He grew up in Bay Village, Ohio, where he starred in soccer and basketball. The football coach at his high school coach didn't like the fact Friedel wouldn't play
"I was 13 years old and walking out of school one day. I heard this, 'Friedel.' Like a drill sergeant. 'Get back here.' This was the varsity football coach. 'We have a
meeting right now.' I said, 'First of all, my name is Brad. It's not Friedel. Second, I am playing soccer next year.'‘How on earth would you play soccer? You will amount to
absolutely nothing in your life if you play soccer.' And anyone who's from the Midwest, Ohio, it’s a meat-and-potato kind of place, it is American football, basketball, baseball – and he
looked at me like I had 10 heads. And I walked out, and that was it. I was playing soccer.”
Cindy Parlow Cone (Player)
Cindy Parlow Cone left Germantown (Tenn.) High School at the age of 16 and enrolled at North Carolina, where she had a 102-3-1 record in four years. A year after joining the Tar Heels, she debuted
with the U.S. women's national team. She started all six games at the 1999 World Cup and finished with 158 caps and 75 goals, fifth all-time for the USA.
"I was 17 when I made my first
trip with the national team and as everyone says, I didn't talk very much. They roomed me with Mia Hamm. I am 17. I still have a poster of her on my wall at home at this time, and now I am rooming
with Mia Hamm. I don't know social norms when you're on a national team trip and you're rooming with the Mia Hamm. So she gets a phone call. Do I stay in the room? Do I leave the room? If I leave the
room, how long do I leave? In the morning, do I brush my teeth first or does she brush her teeth first? What's the protocol here? But Mia, being the ultimate teammate, just put me at ease. She joined
the national team at age 15 and knew what it was like."
Tiffeny Milbrett (Player)
Tiffeny Milbrett was the Soccer America Freshman Player of The Year at Portland in 1991 and finished
with 103 goals for the Pilots. She scored 100 goals for the U.S. women's national team, including the winning goal against Norway in the 1996 Olympic gold-medal game. She was the leading scorer when
the USA won the 1999 Women's World Cup at home before record crowds and record television audiences.
"We were in Pasadena, a solid five, six days before the final so we have a lot of
prep days. We were stunned. We're pulling up to training. It's police escorts. It's cordoned off. It's police after police. It's thousands of people around the training field. We were in the bus, and
I happened to be sitting next to [Michelle] Akers. We're getting off, we're all just stunned. And she turns to me and says, 'Do you feel like you are an animal at a zoo right now?' And I'm, 'Kinda
like, yeah.' It was that shocking for us."
JP Dellacamera (Colin Jose Media Award)
JP Dellacamera's soccer broadcast career began indoors with teams like the Pittsburgh Spirit and
St. Louis Steamers. But he went on to call the most important games in American soccer history: the USA's win over Trinidad & Tobago that qualified it to the World Cup for the first time in 40
years and the Women's World Cup titles the USA won in 1999 and 2015 and drew record soccer television audiences.
"I've been able to call goals from St. Louis, Missouri, to St.
Petersburg, Russia. From Pittsburgh to Cape Town, South Africa. From Rome to Shanghai, Paris and Munich. From Mexico City to Cuba. I met and was able to interview Pele, and I still keep that interview
on my cellphone as a treasured memory of the greatest player to ever play. I had a chance to see Nelson Mandela in his final public appearance before he passed away. I ran from a riot in
Marseille at the 1998 World Cup -- which, to this day, is the fastest I have run."