I live in a city where the National Soccer Hall of Fame is, which is also attached to our MLS team’s stadium. It’s pretty surreal to be able to go walk the hall to see soccer history. And, it’s surreal that every year soccer icons are in Frisco getting inducted into the Hall of Fame. This weekend was NSHOF induction.
The National Soccer Hall of Fame inducted seven new members. U.S. National Team alumni DaMarcus Beasley, Landon Donovan, Lauren Cheney Holiday and Kate Sobrero Markgraf joined former U.S. Women’s National Team coach Jill Ellis and indoor soccer legend Slavisa “Steve” Zungul in entering the Hall of Fame from the 2023 class. U.S. National Team alum Hope Solo entered the Hall of Fame after deferring her induction last year.
The Hall of Fame also honored Grant Wahl as the posthumous recipient of the 2023 Colin Jose Media Award, which honors journalists whose careers have made significant long-term contributions to soccer in the United States.
A defender and midfielder, Beasley made 126 appearances for the U.S. Men’s National Team between 2001 and 2017 and was the first American man to play in four World Cups. He played 11 seasons in Major League Soccer, with one Best XI selection and two Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles.
“Without my family, I would not be here,” Beasley said. “I don’t mean here, on the stage. I mean as a person. My family stays with me. They’ve been to every World Cup, to all the countries I’ve played in. This is about family.”
A forward and midfielder, Donovan made 157 appearances for the U.S. Men’s National Team, including three World Cups and one Olympic Games. Donovan is second only to Cobi Jones on the list of all-time national team appearances, and his 57 goals with the USMNT tied him with Clint Dempsey as the all-time leader. Donovan played 15 seasons in MLS, with seven Best XI selections, and when he retired was the all-time MLS goal-scoring leader.
“I’ve always tried to be mindful of those who came before and quite literally laid the foundation for us,” Donovan said. “Generations before us gave us the opportunity to be here, and I’m grateful. Part of our job has been to make it better for the next generation. When you stand in a building like the Hall of Fame, it makes you realize we did a lot of work to get to this point.”
The coach who guided the U.S. Women’s National Team to World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019, Ellis led the USWNT for seven years (2012 and 2014-2019). She also coached the U.S. team at the Under-20 Women’s World Cup in 2010.
“I’ve been so very fortunate and blessed in soccer to experience incredible highs,” Ellis said. “But the times that were hard, the mistakes, the moments that stung were equally as important.”
A midfielder who starred in the U.S. team that won the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Holiday made 133 appearances for the USWNT and played five professional seasons with two Best XI selections. She also played in the 2011 Women’s World Cup and won gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
“When you play, the Hall of Fame isn’t in your mind,” Holiday said. “I didn’t play to be a Hall of Famer. I wanted to win at the Olympics and win gold medals and win World Cups, so I think this is just the cherry on top.”
A defender who was a regular in the U.S. team that won the 1999 Women’s World Cup, Markgraf played 201 games for the U.S. Women’s National Teambetween 1998 and 2010, including appearances in three World Cups and three Olympic Games. In addition to the 1999 World Cup, Markgraf played for the U.S. teams that won gold medals in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the people who helped me make this journey,” Markgraf said. “The most important part is how I got here, and I would not be here without my family.”
A forward who defected from Yugoslavia in 1978 when he was a rising star on the Yugoslav national team, Zungul played 11 seasons in the Major Indoor Soccer League for the New York Arrows, Golden Bay Earthquakes, San Diego Sockers and Tacoma Stars. He was a first-team all-MISL selection eight times, the league’s MVP six times, the league’s scoring leader six times and a league champion seven times (four with New York and three with San Diego).
Zungul was unable to attend Saturday’s event.
Solo played 202 full internationals as goalkeeper for the U.S. Women’s National Team between 2000 and 2016, winning two Olympic gold medals and a Women’s World Cup championship. She won the Golden Glove, awarded by FIFA, as the outstanding goalkeeper at both the 2011 and 2015 Women’s World Cups.
“I have a lifetime of memories filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” Solo said. “I left everything that I had to my country, to my teams, to my coaches, to the Federation and to the fans.”