Time for another insider column. Here’s what we’ve got this week:
• Hope Solo leads new Hall of Fame candidates
This year’s list of eligible candidates for the National Soccer Hall of Fame will be released soon, and the list of newly eligible candidates is headed by Hope Solo, the goalkeeper who won one Women’s World Cup and two Olympic titles in a 17-year career with the U.S. women’s national team. Other new candidates include Hérculez Gómez, Mike Magee and Carlos Ruiz.
To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, a player needs to have been retired for at least three full calendar years. (Solo last played at the 2016 Olympics.) Any player named on at least 66.7% of voters’ ballots will be elected.
Solo would seem to be a shoo-in for election in her first year on the ballot, but keep in mind that the voting process has been tough on players. Abby Wambach, now the No. 2 all-time leading goal-scorer in international history, was the only player to reach the necessary threshold in 2019, and even Wambach got a surprisingly low vote percentage of 80.9%. Last year’s players who missed the cut included Carlos Bocanegra (64.6%), Steve Cherundolo (51.7%), David Beckham (42.1%), Shannon Boxx (42.1%), Kate Markgraf (41.6%) and Jaime Moreno (36.5%). All those players will be eligible again this year.
Unless he comes out of retirement again, Landon Donovan will be eligible in 2023. (He last played in 2019 for the San Diego Sockers indoor team). Clint Dempsey will be eligible in 2022.
• More details on NWSL’s broadcast deal
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, CBS plans to show three NWSL games this season on big CBS, 14 games on the CBS Sports cable channel and all out-of-market games on the CBS All Access pay-streaming channel. CBS is also considering doing a weekly studio show on the NWSL.
In addition, out-of-market NWSL games are set to also be available on Twitch domestically and internationally.
• MLS’s third DP may not be capped after all
MLS may not end up putting a salary cap on teams’ third Designated Players in 2021 after all, SI has learned. While lower-spending owners have been pushing a plan to cap the salaries of third DPs over the age of 24 (as reported by The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal and Paul Tenorio)—a move that would have prevented the LA Galaxy from signing Javier “Chicharito” Hernández—I’m told that at MLS’s recent Product Strategy Committee meeting there was discussion about capping third DPs only if that team was filling all three of its “Young Money” slots (a new bucket in ’21 that would allow teams to acquire three young players for transfer fees in an effort to incentivize MLS becoming a selling league).
The Product Strategy Committee, perhaps MLS’s most powerful committee, has not yet made a formal recommendation on the issue. There had been criticism of the idea to cap third DPs, because it appeared to take the league in the wrong direction on player spending at the behest of owners who don’t want to spend as much money.
• World Cup 2026 candidate cities taking the next step
Last week, the 17 U.S. cities bidding to host games in World Cup ’26 received a letter inviting them to a workshop in mid-March in Dallas. It’s the next step in a bid process that will include at least two inspection visits to each of those 17 cities between March and November. Those attending the workshop are expecting to hear details on how the bid process will work.
The 17 U.S. bid locations are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York area, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco area, Seattle and Washington, D.C.