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The MLS Hall of Fame: Carlos Valderrama

Background: Let me admit my bias right up front. Other than a slew of US MNT greats, Carlos Valderrama is my favorite soccer player ever. How could he not be? I grew up in Tampa when MLS was created, and he was the Mutiny’s first (and only) superstar. Despite my bias, I still think he belongs on this list, and I’ll tell you why.

Career: Valderrama was 35 when MLS began, but when you saw him on the field you would have sworn he was 25. His MLS career took him from TB to Miami back to TB and finally to Colorado. Wherever he went, he was renowned for his dribbling and passing. He dictated the flow of the game, and he never seemed to tire as games ran long.

Honors: During the 1996 inaugural season, he led the team to the Supporters Shield and was named MVP. He’s 2nd all-time in assists, though he played in 100 less games than #1. He had style, skill and the most fantastic hair in league history. He was named to the MLS All-Time Best XI too. He was the best playmaker to ever take the pitch in MLS.

Legacy: I know from my perspective, no single player was more integral to making me a fan of the league than Carlos. He had it all. The skill. The flair. The hair. He deserves this spot, and I would want a wig of his for memorabilia in my Hall of Fame. All vistors could try it on, too. Well, so long as you don’t have lice, of course. You don’t, right?