January 25, 2019 Marietta - Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra speaks during a press conference at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground in Marietta on Friday, January 25, 2019. Atlanta United introduced Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez to the media on Friday during a formal press conference at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground. The attacking midfielder was a key part of River Plate’s run to the 2018 Copa Libertadores title, South America’s top international club competition, and scored the final goal in River Plate’s 3-1 victory in Leg 2 against rivals Boca Juniors to win the final 5-3 on aggregate on Dec. 10. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Bocanegra should be in National Soccer Hall of Fame

Carlos Bocanegra is again on the ballot for the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

That he wasn’t voted in when first on the ballot in 2018 continues to boggle. I’ll explain why in a bit.

This year’s voting started Wednesday. A candidate must be on 66.7 percent of the ballots submitted to be inducted. Each voter can select up to 10 candidates per ballot.

I’m not among the group of approximately 300 who vote.

Inductions would take place next year at the museum in Frisco, Texas.

The players on the ballot:

David Beckham, Gregg Berhalter, Carlos Bocanegra, Nat Borchers, Shannon Boxx, Jen Buczkowski, Conor Casey, Lori Chalupny, Lauren Cheney Holiday, Steve Cherundolo, Brian Ching, Kenny Cooper, Jeff Cunningham, Brad Davis, Whitney Engen, Herculez Gomez, Clarence Goodson, Kevin Hartman, Frankie Hejduk, Thierry Henry, Stuart Holden, Eddie Johnson, Chris Klein, Amy LePeilbet, Eddie Lewis^, Lori Lindsey, Mike Magee, Justin Mapp, Kate Sobrero Markgraf, Pablo Mastroeni, Clint Mathis, Heather Mitts, Jaime Moreno, Jamison Olave, Steve Ralston, Cat Reddick Whitehill, Robbie Rogers, Carlos Ruiz, Hope Solo, Kelly Smith, Aly Wagner and Stone Mountain native Josh Wolff.

It’s an impressive group.

I don’t like to talk in absolutes because there is typically context that has been forgotten.

But I’m not sure there is a more qualified candidate than Bocanegra.

England's Wayne Rooney, top, battles for the ball with Carlos Bocanegra of the U.S. during their international friendly soccer match at Wembley stadium in London, Wednesday May 28, 2008. England won the match 2-0. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Photo: ALASTAIR GRANT/AP

The facts about his national team career:

  • 110 appearances with the U.S. men’s national team, tied for 11th-most in team’s history;
  • Played in the World Cup in 2006 and captained the team in ’10;
  • Captained the team that defeated No. 1 Spain in Confederations Cup in 2009;
  • Captained the team 64 times, most in its history;
  • His 14 goals are second-most among U.S. defenders (first if you consider DaMarcus Beasley moved to defense later in his career);
  • Two-time Gold Cup winner in 2002 and ’07.

The facts about his club career:

  • MLS Rookie of the Year in 2000;
  • Two-time MLS Defender of the Year in 2002, ’03;
  • Two-time U.S. Open Cup winner in 2000, ’03;
  • 120 appearances with Chicago in MLS;
  • 133 appearances with Fulham in the Premier League;
  • 111 appearances in France with Rennes and Saint-Etienne in Ligue One;
  • 41 appearances with Rangers in Scotland in the Premiership and Third Division;
  • 21 appearances with Racing Santander in Spain in the Segunda Division;
  • 30 appearances with Chivas USA in MLS;

A total of 456 appearances just with his clubs and 566 including the U.S. national team.

That durability alone is Hall-of-Fame worthy.

A knock against Bocanegra’s playing career is, outside of Chicago, the lack of hardware at his club career. I think there’s something to be said for the quality of the clubs he played for. Helping to keep the Cottagers in the Premier League is worthy of a trophy. The other clubs for which he played also didn’t have the financial clout to compete for hardware. The exception was Rangers, and it was subsequently punished.

Bocanegra wasn’t a flashy player, but he did the job very well at his position. A player with that many appearances must have been doing something correctly.

It could be argued that Bocanegra has never been super friendly with the media. He still isn’t. That shouldn’t be a part of this equation. This is about production. This is about worth.

Bocanegra is worthy.

Sports Illustrated’s Brian Straus reported that Bocanegra appeared on 64.6 percent of the ballots in 2019.

It’s time for 2.1 percent more to vote for Bocanegra.

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About the Author

Doug Roberson
Doug Roberson
Doug Roberson covers the Atlanta United and Major League Soccer.
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