Tampa Bay Sports Day

Moreno scores as DC United loses finale 3-2

He did the best he could to make it off the field without his emotions taking over and getting the best of him, the emotions of playing the last game on this field for this club that has been his home and family for basically 15-years.

“When I left the field and I saw my kids crying, that’s when it hit me, I realized it’s now over and I also realize how much they care and suffer in every game. I broke down when I saw that,” said Moreno about the culmination of his brilliant and record setting career with DC United.

Moreno’s son James, after leaving the field, sat quietly, crying at his father’s locker stall waiting for him to come back and take that black DC United uniform off for the last time.

“I never thought it was going to be this hard and I didn’t know what to expect to be honest,” said Moreno. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a family because this is pretty devastating but I wasn’t prepared for this moment and I didn’t know what to expect.”

The 3-2 loss, even after taking the lead just 2-minutes into the match on a goal by his friend Santino Quaranta, was an afterthought. But perhaps most fittingly, Moreno later created and then scored the final goal of his career on a penalty kick to regain the lead in the 39th minute.

With that goal (133), Moreno jumped ahead of Jeff Cunningham for the all time league scoring mark and his 44 penalty kicks are by far the most in league history.

“Hittin’ into a hand for a PK, people think ‘lucky’ uh-no, not with him,” said United coach and Moreno’s former teammate Ben Olsen. “He does that stuff and he’s been doing that stuff for years and it’s a beautiful ending for him but I just wish we could have put it together.”

United goalkeeper Troy Perkins sent an immediate long ball down the left side aimed directly at Moreno for a quick counter. After collecting the ball with his typical fluidity and with a bit of perfect irony Moreno’s cross to Pablo Hernandez was inexplicably intercepted by the arm of Toronto Midfielder Julian de Guzman for the obvious penalty kick.

With very little to show for and justify his $1.7 million contract, de Guzman is exactly what Moreno never was-unproductive.

After picking up the ball and walking to the penalty spot, Moreno was met by goalkeeper Milos Kocic, who played with United a year ago.

“He was asking me where I was going to kick it. And I said you are going to have to guess,” said Moreno, managing a quick smile.

Kocic guessed right, extending hard to his left but still couldn’t get to another perfectly placed penalty from Moreno.

“He said he was going to chip him but I guess he had to shoot that one. He goes out on top again,” said a laughing Quaranta referring to the scoring title. “It’s important to me and I think it’s important to him but the way Jaime is, probably not.”

Though 10-years his junior, Quaranta formed a close relationship with Moreno who helped the young talent get through issues with drugs, alcohol and subsequent depression. So when Quaranta scored that first, he made a bee line to his friend.

“I love him. He’s like a brother to me. We’ve spent a lot of time (together) and he has done so many things for me and there is nobody else I wanted to see but him,” said Quaranta.

“We have seen this over and over and over. There is nobody like him; he turns, he cuts and I was watching him in the beginning and I was forgetting to run sometimes. He is the best player I have ever played with.”

United giving up the lead twice and subsequently losing was par for the year for this team but did not diminish the moment. And scoring that goal was no consolation for arguably the best player in the history of Major League Soccer.

“You guys know me I would have preferred to walk away with a win,” Moreno said. “Unfortunately we continue to make mistakes and we get punished and that has been our luck all year. It’s hard to explain the frustration that we have; we fall asleep 2-seconds and they always score so we never get the breaks.”

“It felt like it but in a lot of ways it sums up the season,” Olsen added. “Look, we are not good enough but saying that it’s important to put that aside and appreciate Jaime and once again he saves a little bit of magic for the last night and several times he looked the Jaime that we all know and love and has treated us to so many good memories, classy stuff.”

Speaking for Moreno’s teammates Olsen added, “They are gutted because they wanted to send Jaime out with a win, the goal helps, but certainly they wanted to send Jaime out.”