Q&A: Talking MLS with Jaime Moreno
First of all, congratulations for all of the goals you have reached throughout your soccer career. With 122 goals, and as of last Friday, 100 assists, 298 games played, and an incomparable track record, you are the player with the most records in the history of the MLS. How does it feel?
I don't know, to be honest, I've never been able to put it into words. I just try to do what I know, and of course, to have fun, which is what I am most interested in. How would you describe those glorious moments where you equaled, and then broke, Jason Kreis' record of 108 goals?
Happy, very happy, because I don't think you get anything for free, you have to work hard for it every day in training. I think that representing my country, that's also very flattering, so yeah, very happy. What I find most important is to keep myself at the same level, which is the hardest thing, and that's what I've always tried to do, to not have very many highs and lows, something that I think is vital for every player. Most of your goals have come from penalties. What do you think of that?
To me, a goal is a goal, I think they all count, and like I said, I'm just happy to be able to contribute to the team, that's what's most important, and trying to keep on working hard so we can win more titles. Of all of these experiences, which has affected you most, or which would you consider the most important of your career?
I think that, for me, the most important moments are always going to be the championships. But one of the most emotional moments for me was when I scored the record goal and my son was down on the field, and he caught the ball. To be honest, it was something that got me really emotional, and I'm so thankful for that moment. After a short stint with the Blooming in Bolivia, you began to make history by being the first Bolivian to reach the Premier League when you signed for Middlesbrough. What did that opportunity mean to you?
It all went by very quickly, to be honest. Maybe I didn't get the most out of that moment, and although I'd love to have another chance, that's soccer. When you're young you don't really know how to appreciate all of those things, and well, it was definitely an important chapter in my life, because that's where I met my wife, and where my son was born, and all of those moments that, at the end of the day, really have a positive impact. During your two seasons at Middlesbrough, you worked under an English soccer great, Bryan Robson, who, during his career as a player broke records at Manchester United, making 500 appearances and scoring 99 goals. How has he influenced you during your soccer career?
I respected him a lot as a coach; he is a spectacular person who taught me a lot. I am very happy to have been able to take part in Middlesbrough those years, they were very important for the team. He is a legend, and I thank God that I was able to have the opportunity to share good moments with him and to learn so much from him as well. What was it like to make the decision to leave England in order to take part in a new project the way that D.C. United and the MLS were in 1996?
It wasn’t easy. It was a good decision, I would say, because of the way my career’s played out, but I don’t think it’s easy for anyone to leave Europe. I’m happy, because I had the opportunity to be there and now to be here. Not everyone has those same opportunities. You went from England on to win four MLS Cups. How do you remember those finals and D.C. United from back then?
They’re unforgettable moments, but at the same time, I don’t like to live in the past. But yes, they were incredible memories, and all of us who lived them had a great time. Four MLS Cups, one CONCACAF Champions Cup, one Interamerican Cup, four Supporters’ Shields, two Open Cups…Which trophy or championship do you remember most fondly?
All of them! Absolutely all of them, I remember them all very fondly, they were very special and unforgettable moments that you have with your teammates and with the people you care about. I think maybe the one we played at home was a little bit more special, but they were all special. On a personal level, what award are you most proud of?
I think for me, maybe the one from 2004 was a special award, because I was coming back from injury and many people didn’t believe in me, and thought that I wouldn’t play soccer anymore. So it was a test for me, to know that I could do it. And of course, I was happy because they gave me another chance and I was able to make the best of it. What do the colors of D.C. United and the words “pride, passion, and tradition” mean to you?
These words are everything for D.C. United, I can tell you. It’s the passion, the shirt, the badge, and of course, the championships! It was in 2002 when you left to play for the New York MetroStars because of your relationship with the then-D.C. United coach, Ray Hudson. What did that year mean to you, who have been so devoted to the D.C. team?
Going to New York was another challenge for me. Back then, my relationship with the coach was very complicated because he’d left me off of the field, and I was a little hurt. More than anything, I am indebted to Bob [Bradley]. He took me there, thinking that we would have a good year, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. Despite being a bad time in my career, it was an experience, and it’s something that everybody should be able to grow from. Throughout your career you’ve shared a locker room with many exceptional people in the world of soccer. Who has influenced you most?
Milton Melgar, I started out at the National Team with him. He was my teammate on the NT, and he influenced me a lot, all of the work we did after training in our rooms. It’s funny now, because every time I see him we talk about it, and all of the funny and nice stories that we share. He was someone very important in my career, and I’ll always be thankful to him. When you arrived in D.C. you met up with your compatriot, Marco Etcheverry, an idol of both United and your country. How would you describe your relationship with him?
Marco was and is the brother I never had, a great friend, and an exceptional player with whom I had the incredible opportunity to play. Twelve years later, and with so much experience, how do you see D.C. United this season?
With the same hopes and dreams as always. I think that that’s what we’ve always worked for, to go out there with the same desire to win; it’s something we work on every day. Soccer often means that players move around. How did you feel when your friend, Chalo Martínez, left?
Sad, because he is a player with a lot of charisma, a lot of talent and experience, and it just worked out that way, that he had to leave. But at the same time, I know that he’ll to very well, and I wish both him and his family the best.How has Christian Gomez’s return influenced the team, both on the field and in the locker room?
Christian always brings with him his experience, which is important. We all know how Christian is, he’s very quiet, but he gives his all on the field. Before you gave your 100th assist on Friday, we saw you complaining on the field. What’s your fitness level like this season, and what are your goals for it?
I feel better as the days go on. Unfortunately, I was cramping a bit [on Friday], which is why I’m still not 100% right now, but I’m working on it. My goal, as always, is to help the team achieve, to reach the levels where we were before, that’s what’s important right now, and that’s what we hope we can do. And your future in soccer?
Spectacular! (Laughs) What do you plan to do after you retire as a player?
Play golf. (Laughs). I’m kidding. We’ll see. I’m leaning towards coaching, but I’ve still got time to think about it. On an international level, with 74 games and 11 goals under your belt, you retired this past October in a game at RFK stadium teeming with fans. What was your career on the Bolivian National Team like?
To be honest, I never considered myself on the same level as Marco [Etcheverry], Erwin [Sánchez] or Milton [Melgar] on the National Team. The truth is that in the last Copa America in 2007 I finally felt like I had proved my place on the National Team, and thankfully, it didn’t go too badly. I was able to prove that I could still play on the National Team, despite a lot of people saying I was done. But I am very happy to have been part of a history in the country, like going to the World Cup in 94. What do you think of the uproar that occurred when the Bolivian team smashed the Maradona-led Argentina by a spectacular 6-1?
It was a party for us! Everyone else was in an uproar but we’re still celebrating!Bolivia is facing a tough summer. Do you think the team will be able to qualify to the FIFA World Cup 2010?
I think the last thing we should lose is hope; it’s what motivates you to keep working. I imagine that that’s what they’re going to do, and as someone watching from afar, that’s what I’m hoping they do.