New England Soccer Today

Hall-worthy Duo

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

On Wednesday, U.S. Soccer announced that Kasey Keller, Sigi Schmid and the late Glenn “Mooch” Myernick had been inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. All three have the resumes to warrant the honor, without question. But they should’ve been accompanied by former Revolution stars Steve Ralston and Taylor Twellman as part of the Hall’s 2015 class.

While both of their careers intertwined in New England, there’s no doubt that Ralston and Twellman each authored impressive resumes of their own. Resumes that, in essence, should’ve made them locks for induction the moment each of them stepped off the pitch for the final time.

Over the course of his stellar 15-year career that kicked off during the league’s inaugural season in 1996, Ralston amassed an astonishing 135 assists in MLS, a mark that was only surpassed last year by Landon Donovan, who one day will also wear the red jacket. The savvy and technically sound Ralston could also find the back of the net, too, as evidenced by his 76 career goals.

The affable attacking midfielder’s play never hemorrhaged during that career, either. He was an important part of every squad he played on. He was named to seven MLS All-Star teams, earned three Best XI selections, and spurred the U.S. Men’s National Team’s qualifying campaign for the 2006 World Cup. During his final full season in 2009, he scored seven goals and collected seven assists for an otherwise underwhelming Revolution side.

Although Ralston’s attacking prowess could be audacious, his demeanor was the exact opposite. The quintessential quiet leader, Ralston often took younger players under his wing during training, hoping to instill the wisdom and insight that was once afforded to him by the legendary Carlos Valderrama, whom he played alongside in Tampa Bay with the now-defunct Mutiny during the 1990s.

One player who certainly made Ralston’s job easier was none other than Twellman, who arrived in New England the same year as the former Mutiny midfielder back in 2002.

The brash and bold Twellman made an immediate splash in MLS, scoring an astounding 23 goals as rookie while helping the Revolution reach its first MLS Cup final. But the former Maryland Terrapin was far from a one-year wonder.

He went on to score 101 goals in 174 games for a superlative 0.60 goals/game strike rate, and garnered five All-Star nods during his nine-year career, which was cut short at age 29 prematurely by the damaging effects of the numerous concussions he suffered as the result of his fearless play. He remains the only player in MLS history to reach the century scoring mark before the age of 30.

Like Ralston, Twellman’s success spilled over to international scene. The 2005 MLS MVP was an instrumental part of the United States’ qualifying campaign for the 2006 World Cup, a tournament many supporters felt the Revolution striker should’ve been a part of after he was left off the final roster by then-U.S. coach Bruce Arena.

Nevertheless, Twellman’s impact at the National Team level was undeniable. He scored six goals in 30 games for the U.S., and was the starting striker during the squad’s most recent Copa America appearance in 2007.

It’s almost impossible to talk about Twellman without bringing up Ralston, and vice versa. During the Revolution’s early-2000s heyday, the duo combined on a number of occasions, with Ralston setting up Twellman for goal after goal as the squad marched to four MLS Cup appearances within a six-year span. To say that one brought out the best in the other is not hyperbole.

How neither has accumulated the sufficient vote for induction after their second year on the ballot is baffling, to put it mildly. To put it bluntly: it’s an outright travesty.

According to U.S. Soccer, each voter can select up to 10 candidates on a single ballot. Each candidate must receive at least 66.7 percent of the vote for induction (full disclosure: I do not have a vote). U.S. Soccer did not release the totals for this year’s vote, so we don’t know how close – or how far – each came to getting the call this year. Either way, that fact that neither Twellman nor Ralston made it on two-thirds of the ballots for the second straight year is stunning.

Regardless, the reality is that both will have to wait another year for their next chance at induction. Another year in which two of the finest players to ever step on a Major League Soccer pitch won’t get the recognition they both deserve. Let’s hope the voters get it right the third time around in 2016.

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