WASHINGTON -- Jaime Moreno is the living embodiment of D.C. United, the club’s captain, elder statesman and one of the last remaining links to the club’s brilliant past.
However, he’s also stuck on the bench of a last-place team with less than a month left in his United career, a harsh reality that chafes his competitive instincts even – perhaps especially – at age 36.
As this difficult season winds down, the Black-and-Red are paying tribute to Moreno’s lengthy list of accomplishments in a variety of ways. But that offers limited consolation for a man who knows that the days of his playing career are numbered.
The league’s all-time scoring king still wants to play.
“I’m still thinking about playing,” said Moreno last week, “but my time in DC is definitely done. I’ve got to see if my next step is to go play somewhere else.
“Every day I’m just trying to figure out what I’m going to do for the best of my family and, of course, me,” he added. “I still have the desire to keep playing, so that’s what so far is still in my head. I haven’t made my decision yet and I don’t think I’m going to do it until the end of the season.”Moreno has made just two substitute appearances in the past month and, despite the fact that his longtime friend and teammate Ben Olsen is leading the team, he feels that he’s no longer being considered for meaningful match action.
“Basically, I don’t think I’m going to play, to be honest,” Moreno said. “Maybe the last game [of the season], just because it’s my last game. But so far, I don’t see myself playing.”
Moreno is mulling whether to return to his native Bolivia for a valedictory stint with Blooming – his first-ever club – or pursue other opportunities, perhaps even elsewhere in MLS.
But as he contemplates how to wind down his own career, he’s also watching his son James take the first steps towards a life in the game. The 14-year-old recently spent a month at Bolivia’s famed Tahuichi youth academy and hopes to return soon, though his father believes the cultural lessons on offer in his homeland are just as important as fitness or training sessions.
“He loved it,” said Moreno of his son. “He had a great experience.
“He did learn a lot. Seeing other kids with no shoes and that other stuff, I think that’s what’s more important,” he added. “For me, it was more important than the soccer part, because that’s where you appreciate life more. He saw all that and was pretty impressed with a lot of things. He’s been there a couple times, but now I guess he sees things different.”
The younger Moreno usually plays striker for his club side, Great Falls SC, though his dad actually thinks he’s better-suited for a midfield role. After spending large portions of his childhood roaming the United locker room, it’s not inconceivable that James could someday return there as a player in his own right.
“He’s got to keep growing, he’s got to keep learning,” said Moreno. “He’s definitely on the right track. He loves the game. He knows that it’s not an easy path to follow, but he’s got to do what he’s got to do if he wants to play soccer. It’s up to him.”