WASHINGTON, D.C. — So many things went right for D.C, United on Saturday nightagainst Toronto FC. A large, affectionate crowd filled RFK Stadium on apleasant fall evening, Santino Quaranta’s 2nd-minute strike provided the perfectstart to the match and a cleverly-earned penalty kick brought one last goal forJaime Moreno.
And they still lost 3-2.
It certainly wasn’t the way they wanted to say goodbye totheir legendary captain, but United’s harsh, troubling season culminated withan appropriate performance against TFC.
“Oh, I think it’s perfect,” goalkeeper Troy Perkinssaid with a rueful chuckle after the game. “Lapses here and there, we don’tfinish our chances, defensively we don’t see things out. And that’s been thething all year.”
That early lead was washed away by several defensiveletdowns and some canny work by TFC star Dwayne De Rosario, who upstaged Morenoas much as any opponent could have hoped to do. Yet even the disappointingfinal result could not obscure a moving tribute to an MLS marvel whose careermay never be equaled.
“In a lot of ways, unfortunately, it kind of sums up theseason, the last game,” United interim head coach Ben Olsen said after thematch. “Look, we’re not good enough. Saying that, it’s important to put thataside tonight and appreciate Jaime. Once again, he saves a little bit of magicfor the last night. Several times it really looked like the Jaime that we allknow and love, and has treated us to so many good memories.”
An understated personality off the field, Moreno has alwaysbeen the consummate entertainer between the touchlines and he gave the homecrowd – RFK’s largest since April – just what they were waiting for when hedrew, then converted a penalty kick to give United a 2-1 advantage shortlybefore halftime.
“Classy stuff on the PK, hitting it into a hand,” Olsennoted. “People think, ‘lucky’ – no. Not with him. He does that stuff, he’s beendoing that stuff for years. Once again, it’s a beautiful ending for him. I justwish we could’ve put it together.”
Teammate after teammate, and even several TFC players,hailed Moreno’s character, quality and contributions as he prepared to rideinto the sunset after a glittering 15-year run.
“We’ve seen this over and over and over,” Quarantasaid. “There’s nobody like him, he turns, he cuts – I was watching in thebeginning and I was forgetting to run sometimes, because I was just watching.That’s the special thing about him – he’s the best.
“He’s the best player I’ve ever played with.”
True to form, Moreno maintained that he would havetraded that final goal for a victory.
“You guys know me, I would’ve preferred to walk awaywith a win,” he said. “Unfortunately we keep making mistakes, and we getpunished. That’s been just our luck all year. It’s hard to explain thefrustration that we have. We fell asleep two seconds and it was a score. So wedon’t have a break.
“But I’m pretty sure it’s going to be totallydifferent next year.”
As his fans and teammates are finding out, “totallydifferent” hardly does justice to the idea of D.C. United withoutJaime Moreno.