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CUTTONE'S CONCEPTS: In Hall of Fame vote, Milbrett's a no-brainer
March 15, 2018
By Charles Cuttone
Editor, North American Soccer Guide
No sport in the United States matches baseball for the volume and vehemence of discussion surrounding its Hall of Fame elections. Every offseason, writers get their ballots and veterans' committees meet to decide who gets enshrined in Cooperstown.
In the media and out, the debate begins anew as to what constitutes a hall of famer, often with a lot of stats and metrics to back things up, along with the less well-defined criteria, like what did that player mean to his team, was he better than so-and-so, and how did he stack up to the other players in his era.
The National Soccer Hall of Fame has a process similar to baseball's. Writers cast their ballots for modern day nominees. But unlike baseball, writers aren't the sole arbiters, and there are committees to select veterans and builders.
I have worked in and covered soccer for more than 40 years, and after casting my share of Hall of Fame ballots, I can say that the decision is often more difficult than you might think.
For one thing, there are fewer stats in soccer. Goals, maybe assists, number of games played. Now there are all kinds of modern analytics as well, but they are not universal, and they can't be recreated for players whose careers ended years ago. And unlike baseball, the stats aren't the same across the board. No matter the baseball position, hitting is hitting and fielding is fielding.
In soccer you have the added issue of players playing in domestic leagues and on the national teams, or in some cases on foreign teams and also the national team.
|Tiffeny Milbrett deserves election to the National Soccer Hall of Fame|
|Photo by Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images|
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So how do you compare someone who played in the original North American Soccer League, the old American Soccer League, or the different eras of the National Team?
Soccer in this country also hasn't had any linear record keeping. Honestly, it's one of the reasons we began publishing the North American Soccer Guide last year, to assemble and keep those records. And that research has led me to at least one inescapable conclusion -- that the one player most overlooked by soccer hall of fame voters the last few years is Tiffeny Milbrett.
She should have been a first ballot hall of famer.
Here's why: In a career that lasted from 1991-2005, Milbrett is ninth on the all-time U.S Women's National Team list of career caps with 206. She's fifth on career list in goals scored with 100. Every player on the list above her, save for Abby Wambach, who is not yet eligible, was a first ballot hall of famer.
That alone merits her induction.
Milbrett played 18 games in the World Cup, was a part of the storied 1999 team, and also scored the game winner in the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal Game.
Her club stats across two leagues, the Women's United Soccer Association and Women's Professional Soccer, are just as impressive.
Her 41 career goals are sixth on the all-time career list we compiled for the Guide. She was passed on the list last year by Samantha Kerr and Christen Press. She's also tied for third on the all-time single season list with 16 goals, surpassed last year by Kerr, and in 2014 by Kim Little and in 2010 by Marta. So from 2001-2010, she held the all-time single season scoring record for women's soccer, but no one knew it.
She's a hall of famer. You can look it up.