Jaime Moreno Talks Longevity and D.C.
I mentioned in the previous post that Jaime Moreno is D.C.'s longest-tenured current athlete, with 13 years of service in the same city (although interrupted by that brief and unfortunate trip north to New Jersey). Turns out that tenure is about to gain some national exposure.
See, Moreno and Cobi Jones are currently tied for the most regular season games played with a single MLS franchise (306, 38 more than Chicago's C.J. Brown). Assuming Moreno plays in one o the next two games, he'll close this season as MLS's standard-bearer for single-club longevity.
"Oh, for sure," Moreno said, when I asked if he takes any pride in that longevity. "I love the team, I love the area, I love the fans. At the same time I feel like people, they gave me the same love, so fans that do appreciate what I've done for this organization, and people upstairs too. I feel that we have that respect, and it's nice, it's nice to get recognized. But at the same time...you earn it. I've worked all my career basically on this team."
He's also nearly lived in D.C. as long as he has in his native Bolivia, which he left at the age of 19 to play in England. When he was signed by MLS and allocated to D.C. in 1996, he figured that would just be a short stop before a return to the big time.
"My plan was to come here a couple years and go back to Europe," he said. "I do regret not to take that chance when I was in England, you know? It's a big thing that's gonna stick in my mind for the rest of my life, because I knew and I know that I could play there then. But definitely I wasn't ready for that challenge."
Instead, though, he made a home in D.C. If you don't follow United, this all might not mean too much to you, but if you do, it's hard to think of this franchise without Moreno.
"Certainly back then he was The Man, as he has been The Man here for a long time," said Ben Olsen, in his 12th year with the club. "I think his accomplishments here are second to none. He's got the rings, he's got the goals, he's got the assists, and he's got the adoration of our fans and the appreciation of our fans. That's it. That's what you want when you have a career. He's done it all."
To put his longevity in another way, here are some of the D.C. sports institutions Moreno pre-dates: Ted Leonsis as Caps owner, Daniel Snyder as Skins owner, FedEx Field, the Verizon Center, the Nats, the Mystics, the D.C. Sports Bog. I asked Moreno whether the club and its place in the D.C. sports landscape has changed over his 13 years.
"Yeah, it has changed in a good way and also, not in a bad way, but definitely it's a team right now where you feel a lot of pressure to win championships, and to be where we think we belong," Moreno said. "I don't think this year that's been the case, so with our up and downs, it's not something that you plan. Always when you start preseason, your goal is to win the championship, to achieve important things in your career. But that's life. What can you do? You give it your best shot, and sometimes it doesn't work."
And so what comes next, when he finally stops playing?
"Who knows man," Moreno said. "I'm planning [to stay in D.C.], but you don't know what comes next. Definitely this is the area where my kids grow up, but then anything could happen and then you've got to move."
But D.C. United and Moreno will always be linked. I was talking to Santino Quaranta--who has himself played part of eight seasons in D.C.--about his well-tenured teammates, Olsen and Moreno.
"[They're] not old, but they've been here a long time," he said. "When you think of D.C., it's just them two guys. They're gonna be legends, you know? You know what the thing is with these guys, they're always gonna be involved with this club, coaching, development, whatever it would be. You just see that coming in the future."
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