There's No Stopping D.C. United's Moreno

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 30, 2007

For a player supposedly in the twilight of a splendid career, Jaime Moreno is in demand and on the move as much as he was a decade ago, when he was MLS's most creative forward and among Bolivia's top young players.

In the past 11 days, Moreno has been in Toronto for a D.C. United match; in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, for national team training camp; in the Boston area for a friendly against Ireland; and back in Washington to prepare for this weekend's game at Los Angeles.

Representing his country for the first time in more than five years, Moreno ignored a sore back Saturday to play the first half of Bolivia's 1-1 tie with the Irish at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. He helped set up the tying goal in the 14th minute and earned favorable reviews from both Bolivian supporters and media outlets.

"It was a fun week," said Moreno, 33, who is tied with recently retired Jason Kreis for most goals in MLS history (108). "It's always special . . . and it was nice to be back."

With a good performance behind him and a strong bond with Bolivia Coach Erwin "Platini" Sanchez, his former Tahuichi Academy and 1994 World Cup teammate, Moreno seems certain to be recalled for Copa America, the celebrated South American championship that begins June 26 in Venezuela. If so, he would miss at least three United matches.

Asked if he and Sanchez have discussed his participation in Copa America, Moreno said: "A little bit. But anything could happen in the meantime. Until he gets to that day, my only concern right now is get back in D.C., try to get 100 percent healthy and just face this new game" this weekend.

Despite the back ailment, Moreno practiced yesterday and will be available against the Galaxy. He has scored in his last three MLS appearances, all on penalty kicks, and likely will return to the starting lineup despite his inconsistent contributions early in the season and rookie forward Guy-Roland Kpene's influential play of late.

Tom Soehn has admired Moreno over the years as a rival player and now as his head coach.

"He has had to change the way he plays," Soehn said. "Obviously, as you get older, you slow down a bit, but what he has been able to do is adjust his game accordingly. His feet are unbelievable and there aren't many guys who can emulate what he does. I know he was hurting in the game against Ireland, but even then you can see how he makes players around him better, and that's a special quality."

Soehn would not be surprised if Moreno is summoned for Copa America, saying, "If he plays up to what he can with us and stays healthy, absolutely."

Notes: The reigning champion Houston Dynamo yesterday became the second MLS team to be honored at the White House. The team, which remained in Washington following a 2-1 loss to United on Saturday, presented President Bush with a championship ring, an orange jersey and a ball.

"This is, without a doubt, the memory we will take from this trip, a memory we will keep with us the rest of our lives," said team captain Wade Barrett, a William & Mary graduate. "It doesn't win us any points in the standings over the next couple games, but certainly made this trip memorable."

United was honored after winning the 1997 title. . . .

Three untested Europe-based players were named to the 19-man U.S. national team roster for the friendly against China on Saturday in San Jose, the Americans' final tuneup before the Gold Cup. Forwards Kamani Hill (Wolfsburg, Germany) and Charlie Davies (Hammarby, Norway), as well as midfielder Lee Nguyen (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands) were called up for the match because of MLS scheduling conflicts for several Gold Cup players. The U.S. Gold Cup opener is June 7 against Guatemala in Carson, Calif.

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