Hugo Perez

A midfielder-forward, known particularly for his deft ball skills and playmaking talent, who played in the U.S. national team for 10 years and for pro teams in North America, Central America, Europe and Asia.

Between 1984 and 1994, Perez was capped 73 times and scored 13 goals for the United States, which at the time of his national-team retirement put him third on the all-time goalscoring list. Four of those goals came against the country where he was born, El Salvador.

In the early 1990s, Perez was a major part of coach Bora Milutinovic’s efforts to change the national team’s playing style to a possession game, although much of Perez’ national-team career preceded Milutinovic’s arrival.

Perez began playing in the North American Soccer League for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in 1982, when he was only 18. He was traded to the San Diego Sockers the following season and played for San Diego both in the NASL and for several seasons in the MISL after the NASL folded.

He made his national-team debut against Italy in 1984, and became a fixture in the American lineup in the mid-1980s, before dropping out of the team on the eve of the 1988 Olympic Games to pursue an offer to play in Switzerland. Perez never did play in Switzerland, but ended up in the second division in France during the 1989-90 season. He regained a place in the national team in 1989, and scored the only goal of a 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over El Salvador in September 1989. However, an injury suffered while playing in France kept him out of the squad for the 1990 World Cup.

Milutinovic brought Perez back into the national team in the spring of 1991, after Perez had played a season in Sweden, and the midfielder once again became a U.S. regular until signing with a Saudi Arabian club in late 1992. He came back to the United States in 1993, but never regained his regular first-team place with the national team, although he did start against Brazil in the 1994 World Cup. Perez played his last game for the United States against England in September 1994. He played two seasons with the first-division FAS Santa Ana club in El Salvador before retiring from soccer in 1996.

Inducted in 2008.

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