Correction to This Article
In some Aug. 23 editions, a photo caption in the Sports section incorrectly identified D.C. United's Luciano Emilio as Fred.

Moreno Is on The Mark

jaime moreno - d.c. united
Eleven years since joining the league and three months after tying the mark set by Jason Kreis, D.C. United team captain Jaime Moreno converts a penalty kick early in the second half to put his name in the MLS record book. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais - AP)
By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 23, 2007

Jaime Moreno's pursuit of the MLS career goal-scoring record had been stalled by Bolivian national team call-ups and injuries, by the fatigue of a long season and, at age 33, his own declining impact.

But last night, 11 years since joining the league and three months after tying Jason Kreis's milestone, United's team captain converted a penalty kick early in the second half -- No. 109 of his career -- to cap a 3-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls before 18,748 at RFK Stadium.

So many of Moreno's goals have come on the end of an elegant run or a cheeky chip over the goalkeeper, it was almost a shame that he set the record on a stationary kick from 12 yards. But Moreno is clearly in the twilight of a magnificent career, and the goals simply do not come in the run of play anymore. His previous three goals this season were on penalty kicks, including the game-winner at Toronto in mid-May to tie the mark.

When referee Ricardo Salazar awarded the penalty kick last night, Moreno turned to Luciano Emilio, MLS's leading scorer this season, to take it because "I didn't want to score on a penalty, to be honest with you," Moreno said. "But then Benny [Olsen] told me to take it and get it over with. . . . I changed my mind."

Said Olsen: "I saw Luciano going up, and I said, 'Jaime, what are you doing? Go get that ball.'"

Moreno deposited a crisp shot into the lower left corner, retrieved the ball as his teammates gathered to celebrate, then let a game official deliver it to his 11-year-old son, James, on the sideline. New York Coach Bruce Arena, who was in charge of United during Moreno's first three seasons in MLS and remains a close friend, waved in acknowledgment.

"I was pleased to be able to witness it, not necessarily pleased it came against our team at an important time, but I am honored," Arena said.

Moreno's historic strike came on a night when United (11-6-3) scored twice in the first eight minutes, endured New York's intense pressure and Juan Pablo Angel's goal midway through the half, then secured its fourth consecutive MLS victory to move within three points of first-place New England in the Eastern Conference.

Olsen, back in the lineup after sitting out Saturday's win at Columbus because of an ankle ailment, opened the scoring with a simple finish and assisted on Christian Gomez's header two minutes later for United, which beat its arch rivals for the second time in three meetings and extended its home unbeaten streak to nine.

"We felt if we could come out and dictate the terms in the first 15 minutes," United Coach Tom Soehn said, "we could establish the game, and for the most part we did."

The Red Bulls' weakness is their back line, and United exploited it right away. In the sixth minute, goalkeeper Troy Perkins sent a long ball that sailed over right back Hunter Freeman and bounced to Fred in stride. With a step on Freeman, Fred approached the box and cut to the middle before unleashing a low shot. Ronald Waterreus did well to stop it, but left the rebound for Olsen to poke into an open net.

Olsen had devastated the Red Bulls at RFK in June with his first career hat trick during a 4-2 victory. Four of his five goals this season have come against New York, none easier, though, than this one.

United did not relent. Two minutes later, Olsen took the ball from a New York player on the right flank, played a give-and-go with Moreno and served an end-line cross that skipped off Chris Leitch and sailed to the far post for Gomez's short header.

Undeterred, the Red Bulls (10-8-3) attacked confidently and forcefully, halving the deficit in the 21st minute on Angel's penalty kick. United defender Marc Burch slipped just outside the box and took down Angel from behind. With Dane Richards running onto the free ball, Salazar let play continue and then promptly awarded the kick when Perkins upended Richards. The goal snapped United's shutout streak at 362 minutes.

Angel nearly tied the score a moment later, but his 25-yard half-volley nicked the outside of the right post.

Less than two minutes after the break, Moreno created the sequence that led to his historic goal with a clever touch that liberated Emilio, who was tripped from behind.

"I think my wife is relieved," Moreno joked. "She got tired of telling me to score, but I knew it was going to come at the right time. I never got desperate."

© 2007 The Washington Post Company