U.S. Open Cup: D.C. United beats Richmond Kickers behind Jaime Moreno
Wednesday, June 30, 2010; 11:01 PM
It has been a major adjustment this season for D.C. United forward Jaime Moreno, MLS's all-time leading scorer who is considered to be one of the club's legends.
The only remaining MLS player who has played every league season since 1996, Moreno has seen his role decrease this year. The minutes have come sparingly if at all.
On Wednesday night in United's 2-0 win over the Richmond Kickers in a U.S. Open Cup round-of-16 game, Moreno was even asked to play a completely new position: left midfield.
But Moreno did what he has done often this season, embracing whatever role he is asked to play, and the 14-year veteran had a hand in both goals, scoring in the 47th minute and assisting on Santino Quaranta's strike in the 56th to guide United to the tournament quarterfinals in front of 2,985 at George Mason University Stadium in Fairfax.
"I know I haven't played so many games this year and when I have the opportunity I try to take the most of it," said Moreno, whose goal was the 13th of his career in U.S. Open Cup play. "It's always nice to be involved and just to win."
United forward Luciano Emilio was forced to leave the game in the 40th minute after being knocked unconscious in a collision with Richmond goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale. After the game, United assistant coach Kris Kelderman said Emilio complained of a headache and soreness and that he would likely be further evaluated on Thursday.
In its first-ever game in Northern Virginia, United was slow to start against the Kickers, who play in USL2, the third tier of American professional soccer. On a field that was saturated with water, United looked disjointed in the midfield and failed to connect much against a team hoping to pull of an upset.
United's best chance came from Moreno just before halftime when he skied a cross from Danny Allsopp from seven yards out.
"The first half it definitely was not as sharp as what we had wanted, what we had planned," said Kelderman, who coached in place of Curt Onalfo, United's suspended head coach.
After halftime, however, it took very little time for United to squeeze out any hope Richmond may have had for advancing.
A quick counterattack in the 47th minute ended with Thabiso "Boyzzz" Khumalo finding Moreno on top of the box, and the Bolivian deftly picked out the far corner with a cool finish to provide United with the advantage.
Nine minutes later, Khumalo used his speed down the right sideline and crossed to Quaranta, who opted not to shoot a one-timer and instead touched it back out to Moreno. Moreno fed it back and Quaranta's chip attempt deflected off a defender and in at the near post to double the lead.
After the game, Quaranta praised Moreno both for his performance and also his willingness to help the team.
"I have a lot of respect for him," Quaranta said. "He doesn't bring any type of poison in the locker room. It'd be easy for a guy like that, especially Jaime for what he's done here, to get frustrated and not come out and perform and put his head down and he's not that guy. He's our captain, he's a good friend, he's a good teammate, he helps the young guys and you can't say enough about him."