One of the most capped United States players of all time. Balboa, a central defender, played his first game in the U.S. national team in 1988, and by the time he retired in 2000 had accumulated 128 full international caps, making him the all-time leader at that point.
In 1998, Balboa became, along with Eric Wynalda and Tab Ramos, the first Americans ever to play in three World Cups. He was brought into the starting lineup in the United States first game in 1990, was paired with Alexi Lalas in the center of the United States’ defense for all four games in 1994 and appeared as a substitute in one game in 1998. Among the milestones in Balboa’s national-team career were the game in 1994 in which he passed Bruce Murray as the United States’ all-time most-capped player, the game in 1995 when he became the first American to reach 100 caps and the game in 1998 when he passed England’s Peter Shilton and became the world’s third-most-capped player. He was named the USSF Male Athlete of the Year twice, in 1992 and 1994.
For a defender, Balboa was a frequent goalscorer. Even more famous than any of his 13 goals for the United States, however, was a shot that missed, a bicycle kick against Colombia in the 1994 World Cup that was barely wide. He did score on several bicycle kicks in his career, including one for the United States, against Trinidad in 1991.
In addition to his World Cup play, Balboa appeared for the United States in the team that won the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 1991 and the team that made a run to the semifinals of the Copa America in 1995. Balboa, who played college soccer at San Diego State, achieved his high number of appearances despite a torn ACL suffered in the spring of 1993.
Balboa was one of the first major U.S. stars to play in Mexico. He spent the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons with Leon before moving at the start of Major League Soccer in 1996 to the Colorado Rapids, with whom he reached the MLS final in 1997. In earlier years, he had played for the San Diego Nomads, San Francisco Bay Blackhawks and Colorado Foxes in the APSL, winning league titles with San Francisco Bay in 1991 and Colorado in 1992. He played seven seasons in MLS.
Inducted in 2005.