- Associated Press - Sunday, February 15, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Kristine Lilly thought she was just playing soccer. She had no idea she was helping create a dynasty. Brian McBride got a little emotional when he announced his retirement in 2010. This time he wanted to enjoy the moment.

Lilly, McBride and former U.S. men’s national team coach Bob Bradley were inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame during an anniversary dinner Saturday night, part of the U.S. Soccer Federation Annual General Meeting at the Marriott Marquis.

Lilly was a member of the U.S. national women’s team from its inception, joining fellow teenagers Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy in helping establish and legitimize the sport in America.

“She’s not just a pioneer. She’s one of the greatest of all time,” said North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance, who introduced Lilly and presented her with a Hall of Fame jacket. “I believe bringing Foudy, Hamm and Lilly onto the national team as teens was an investment. They paid us back by putting the team on their shoulders. It was an incredible run. They created a U.S. Soccer dynasty.”

Lilly played in 353 games for the national team, more than any other international player, male or female. She helped win two Olympic gold medals, one silver medal and two FIFA Women’s World cup titles.

“We were so young,” said Lilly, her two children, Sidney Marie and Jordan Mary in attendance. “We didn’t know what a big picture was. It was so new for all of us. We knew we were doing good things but it wasn’t until 1999 before we realized what a big thing it was.”

The women won their first World Cup title in 1991, in China and returned to little fanfare or media attention.

“They played because they loved the game,” Dorrance said. “It was an opportunity to beat the world at its own game and represent the United States. I don’t think we can be grateful enough for the group that dominated the world’s game.”

Lilly, who ranks third with 130 goals, was on four NCAA championship teams at North Carolina.

“Anson has had the biggest impact on my career,” Lilly said. “He opened the door for me.”

McBride, who was introduced by former teammate Kasey Keller, retired as the No. 4 goal scorer for the U.S. men’s national team with 30 goals and 10 assists, in 96 games. An All-American at St. Louis University, he graduated as the school’s all-time leading goal scorer (72), assists leader (40) and points leader (184).

“I’ve been thinking a lot about the speech,” McBride said. “I keep telling myself not to get emotional. I don’t want it to be anything but positive and fun. It’s an amazing individual honor in a sport that is not individual.”

McBride began by thanking his wife, family, mother, teammates and coaches. That was just for starters.

“The big thing is I wanted to show how grateful and thankful I am,” he said. “I want to tell about the people who have been influential in my life.”

McBride played in the 2008 Olympics and with three different MSL teams. He also played in Germany and England. He appeared in 450 matches, 261 with U.S. teams, scoring 144 goals.

“There’s definitely been growth,” McBride said. “There’s a lot of momentum and it starts with the national team.”

Bradley, the men’s national team coach from 2006-11, was unable to attend because of obligations with his current coaching assignment in Norway. He was honored with a video tribute.

U.S. Soccer Federation President and FIFA Executive Committee member Sunil Gulati presided over the evening’s events.

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