By AVI CREDITOR
The lack of a building didn't mean that there was a lack of recognition for four individuals who helped bring U.S. Soccer to new heights.
Despite not having a physical location, the U.S. Soccer National Hall of Fame opened its proverbial doors to Bruce Arena, Kyle Rote Jr., Preki Radosavljevic and Thomas Dooley prior to Tuesday's United States-Brazil match at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
In addition to the four inductees, longtime soccer journalist Paul Gardner was awarded the Colin Jose Media Award.
"Every Hall of Fame class is special in its own way, and this one highlights a time of unique growth in our U.S. Soccer history," U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said.
Arena, whom Gulati called "unquestionably the most successful coach in the history of U.S. Soccer at every level," led the University of Virginia to five NCAA championships, won the first two MLS Cups with D.C. United and guided the U.S. men's national team to its best-ever FIFA World Cup finish, a quarterfinal berth in 2002.
"I'm greatly honored," Arena said. "I've had unbelievably good fortune to work with so many good people in the game. Over the past 30 years I've been driven and focused as a coach and a builder. I've dedicated myself to be the very best I could be."
Dooley and Preki represented an evolutionary change for U.S. Soccer, with both men being born outside of the country before securing U.S. citizenship and ultimately starring for the national team.
Dooley, born in Germany to an American father and German mother, began his national team career at age 32 and became an immediate fixture with the United States. He was the 1993 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year and he amassed 81 caps in his eight years, which included a stint as captain in the 1998 World Cup in France.
Preki, born in Yugoslavia, starred on both the indoor and outdoor soccer circuits in the United States and retired from Major League Soccer in 2005 as the league's all-time points leader. He was the only player to feature in the league's first eight All-Star games and had five seasons of at least 10 goals and 10 assists.
His most iconic moment for the United States came in the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup, when his trademark, left-footed shot found the back of the net in a semifinal against Brazil, lifting the national team to its only victory over the Selecao.
Rote, one of the first American soccer superstars, was a scoring machine in the 1970s, becoming the only American-born player to win the North American Soccer League's scoring title.
"Kyle is one of our American soccer pioneers, and the contribution of his generation should be celebrated," Gulati said.
The Hall of Fame is in search for a new location after leaving its Oneonta, N.Y., building earlier in the year. A U.S. Soccer official said that once FIFA's decision regarding the U.S. bid for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup has been made, the federation will turn more of its attention to finding a new site.
Which moments involving the 2010 inductees are most memorable for you? Where do you think would be a good spot for the Hall of Fame?
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