Marcelo Balboa and Fernando Clavijo Inducted Into Hall of Fame

ONEONTA N.Y. (From MLSNet.com)- Some of the most important figures in U.S. soccer were at the National Soccer Hall of Fame on Monday afternoon to honor the 2005 induction class which includes MLS veterans John Harkes Tab Ramos Marcelo Balboa and current Colorado Rapids head coach Fernando Clavijo.

Longtime U.S. soccer broadcaster Seamus Malin served as the master of ceremonies for the event. Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber was on hand and he and other U.S. soccer officials doled out much-deserved praise on the first all-MLS induction class ever to enter the Hall.

"These are the forefathers of the modern era of the sport in our country Garber said. "Each of the members has been a part of the building of our young league."

Balboa was the first of the players to don the traditional red jacket that is awarded to members of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. The first man to hit 100 appearances for the U.S. national team Balboa was introduced by his current broadcasting colleague J.P. Dellacamera.

"Everybody keeps saying skill Balboa said during his acceptance speech after a short highlight reel from his days with the Red White and Blue. "But did you see me dribble by anybody? Did you see me run by anybody? My job was to win the ball and give it to the skillful guys."

Balboa shared the credit with his many coaches and teammates throughout the years as well as praising MLS for providing him with the opportunity to play the game he loves at home.

"It's a team game he said. "I wouldn't be standing here without all of them. Thank you to MLS for making a dream come true for us. When the opportunity came it was a real easy decision."

Harkes gave an emotional address after being presented by his equally emotional father James. The younger Harkes remarked about his upbringing in the soccer hotbed of Kearny N.J. also the hometown of fellow inductee Ramos.

"It's an incredible honor to be inducted he said. "I look around and see so many familiar faces and I think back to all the years. I'm very fortunate to grow up in a small part of history. It was just about love of the game for us."

Ramos concluded the ceremony with a humble speech about the past present and future of American soccer all of which he is deeply ingrained in.

"The Hall of Fame is so far beyond anything you dream about he said. "It's incredible to see the progress we have made. There are a lot of 'remember whens'. I'm proud to be a part of this era of players that will be looked back on as a springboard. I am committed to being a part of U.S. soccer going forward."

The continued contributions of all of this year's inductees is evident. Harkes and Balboa hold positions at D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids respectively while Ramos is closely working with soccer's future stars as a coach in the New York metropolitan area.

Joining the three player inductees are two others who have worked tirelessly for the growth of soccer which they continue to be a part of.

Clavijo -- current head coach of the Rapids -- was inducted as a veteran player while former U.S. soccer secretary general Hank Steinbrecher received Hall of Fame status as a builder. The Hall of Fame celebration concluded Monday afternoon as the Rapids and United took the field in front of a packed house at At-A-Glance Field at the Hall. Harkes Balboa and Clavijo all took part in the match.

Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.