Hard to imagine, in this day and age, an athlete on the verge of a landmark achievement not beating his chest and gobbling up the spotlight with the same verve as Kobayashi scarfing down hot dogs.
Where’s the drama? Where’s the media-driven duel in which the protagonist and antagonist trade barbs?
It’s not there. None of it.
That’s a shame. Because Jeff Cunningham’s pursuit of Jaime Moreno in MLS’ all-time leading goal-scoring chart is a fascinating race. Two prickly personalities with very different styles—one a wizard of craft and timing, the other a bundle of power and speed—and yet the rhetoric is not there.
It’s Cunningham’s fault, mainly. As he got closer—including notching his record-tying 132nd goal, on a penalty kick in FCD’s 3-0 win over Chicago last weekend—the hype machine was ready to rev up. The trumpets were ready to blare, the headlines ready to be printed.But Cunningham remained silent. Just as he’s been for months.
He has intimated that he will speak once he passes Moreno. But who knows? After all, this is Jeff Cunningham. On the field, you know he’s going to score goals. Off the field, well, it’s a mystery.
Many believe Cunningham could overtake Moreno this weekend when FCD host Colorado. He’s in fine form, scoring once in each of the last two matches. Perhaps that’s the reason there isn’t more hoopla around this possibility: the inevitability of its happening.
Cunningham is playing for a high-flying side with a playoff spot locked up and an outside shot at the Supporters’ Shield.
Meanwhile, despite his status as a United legend, the 36-year-old Moreno has been relegated to a supporting role. Sometimes he seems more like an extra, actually.
But even if he were to get another, parting shot at playing the lead, he doesn’t really have the chops or the supporting cast around him to allow him to pile up goals like he did in the past.But don’t count the Bolivian out. He only has one goal this season, a far cry from his career best for a season (16, three times). And he no longer dances around defenders at the top of the area or ghosts into the right place at the right time for a late tap-in.
But a maestro like Moreno, if he gets the opportunity — he’s expected to start against San Jose on Saturday, by the way — could still prove capable of the palpable hit.
And you just know a proud organization like United will want do whatever it can to help its icon hold onto the record.
So here’s a juicy scenario for this tension-and-promise-filled weekend:
Cunningham slams home his 133rd goal to take the all-time lead after Dallas and Colorado kick off at 6 p.m. ET. Then, after United and San Jose kick at 7:30 p.m. ET, old man Moreno pulls one back?
Talk about drama. Bravo!