Commerce City, Colo. - Former Colorado Rapids defender Marcelo Balboa will add another memorable achievement after he was selected to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. Balboa will be honored along with recently retired Colorado Avalanche forward Peter Forsberg and four other individuals at the 48th annual banquet on April 10, 2012 at the Denver Marriott City Center.
"It's an honor," Balboa told ColoradoRapids.com. "There are a lot of people to thank - I had teammates, I had fans, I had many people who helped me get to this point. For me it's an honor to be in as a Colorado Rapids, and to be in with a guy like (Peter) Forsberg is pretty cool."
As captain of the United States National Team and veteran of the 1990 and 1994 World Cup, Balboa was allocated to the Rapids on February 5, 1996. After missing out on the club's first ever game - a 3-0 loss at Kansas City - while finishing his season with Leon in Mexico's First Division, he joined the Rapids three days before the home opener. On April 21, 1996, Balboa scored the Rapids' first-ever goal in the 48th minute - and added another in the 64th - to lead Colorado to a 3-1 victory over Dallas in the first game Mile High Stadium.
"You always want to leave a legacy behind," he said. "For me it was always important to help grow the game of soccer, to be able to leave something behind. To be honored by the US Soccer Hall of Fame and now being honored here in Colorado, where I chose to play in '96, it just means a lot."
Balboa appeared in 152 regular season game for the Rapids from 1996-2001, scoring 24 goals and adding 23 assists mostly from the backline. He was selected to six MLS All-Star games and was also a member of the USA's 1998 World Cup team. Prior to the inaugural MLS season, Balboa had played for the San Diego Nomads (1987-89), the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks (1990-1991), the Colorado Foxes (1992-1993), and Leon (1994-1996).
In the last few years, fans of his from his days with the Rapids and National Team began facebook campaigns in the hopes of getting Balboa named to the state's Sports Hall of Fame.
"This has been pushed and moved forward by all the fans that have been around since '96," he said. "For the fans to push like they did, and an organization that I played for to back me and keep pushing this until it happened, it means a lot and I appreciate it."
Since retiring, Balboa has remained committed to the sport at various levels and in multiple roles. He has worked as a commentator on both English and Spanish national TV and radio outlets and is currently the Rapids' color-commentator on Altitude broadcasts. He is also the Executive Director of Trebol Soccer Club, on the Colorado Youth Soccer Board of Directors and the United States Soccer Federation Athletes Board.
"When I started playing here, little by little we had to keep growing the sport," he added. "It's going to time for soccer to be a big impact sport, and we're just starting to make our own history. Little by little the sport is getting more and more respect. And the Rapids winning a championship definitely promotes the game of soccer like no other."
Balboa and Forsberg will be inducted along with Frank Carbajal, Glenn Gondrezick, Greg Myers and Will Nicholson, Jr. as the Class of 2012. Last year, the Colorado Rapids were selected as the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame "Athletes of the Year" after winning the 2010 MLS Cup title. Since its inception in 1965, the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame has inducted 216 individuals.