MLS Insider column

Aug 28, 2007 - 10:31 PM By Ian Parker Special to PA SportsTicker

In 11 years service in Major League Soccer, Jaime Moreno has done it all.

The veteran striker has three league titles, six All-Star appearances, and five selections to the team of the year, stating his case as one of the most accomplished players in MLS history.

Last week he added another chapter to his own and the league's history books with career goal No. 109 - a strike which put him top of the MLS all-time charts.

The historic goal came in the 48th minute of a 3-1 win over New York Red Bulls when Moreno stepped up to fire home a penalty kick which sealed victory for United.

At first Moreno was reluctant to take the kick, having hoped to break the record with a goal from open play, but he was eventually persuaded to end what had been a three-month wait since he tied Jason Kreis' record.

"I wasn't going to take it, but then Benny (Olsen) shouted up and just said to get it over with," Moreno told PA SportsTicker.

Moreno's long wait was brought about by international call ups for Bolivia, as well as a string of nagging injuries.

While it was frustrating for fans and teammates, Moreno insists the wait never bothered him.

"I was a little bit unlucky," he said. "Maybe it could have happened before now, but I never got desperate. "I just thought, if it happens, it happens. If it doesn't you keep working."

Once Moreno's shot hit the back of the net, the 33-year-old was able to celebrate the moment with his son James - one of five children he has with wife Louise - down on the sidelines.

"Personally, if you take all of my achievements, and the championships I've won, its definitely right up there," he said. "But its something that just happened. I never planned it. I didn't realize that one day I would be recognized as the top scorer. It's a great thing."

Moreno has played in the league almost since its inception, signing with United in August 1996 from Middlesbrough of the English Premier League. He spent his first several seasons playing alongside compatriot and United legend Marco Etcheverry as the Black and Red built a dynasty under coach Bruce Arena.

His scoring prowess became quickly apparent as he netted 16 times in his first full season in DC - a total he matched a year later.

Moreno became a key part of United's title winning teams, claiming three in 1996, 1997, and 1999.

He remained a consistent goal threat until injury set him back in 2002. In 2003, his only season away from Washington when he played in New York for Metrostars, a back injury would almost end his career.

Moreno had surgery on a herniated disc, and admits he thought he was done as a soccer player.

"I did think my career was over at the time because when I came back I didn't feel right, but then I suppose you never feel right when you have a serious operation like that," he said.

"I was lucky that I had a good rehab and DC gave me a chance and really worked with me to get through it. It was pretty hard. There was a lot of pain. I was going to walk away but I stayed focused and I was very lucky that I kept playing."

As he battled back to full fitness, Moreno added seven goals to his career tally in 2004, and was back in full flow by 2005 as he matched his career high with a total of 16.

Number 100 came in 2006 in a 5-1 demolition of the Columbus Crew, and when Kreis hung up his boots earlier this season, Moreno's push for the record moved into the final stage.

Now, with the record in the books, Moreno is fully focused on United's postseason plans, with one eye firmly fixed on the November 18 final at Washington's RFK Stadium.

"The only target (I'm thinking about) now is the final," he said. "I'm definitely looking forward to that because obviously its at home and we all really want to get there. We're going in the right direction."

As he moves towards the end of his career, Moreno is playing more of a supporting role in the United attack, with the goals usually taken care of by Brazilian Luciano Emilio.

The Brazilian has scored 14 in his first 20 games in MLS, not a statistic that surprises Moreno.

"I think we all knew from day one that he was going to score goal," he said. "That's why (coach) Tommy (Soehn) brought him here. He's a natural goalscorer."

The bigger challenge for Moreno himself is to stay injury-free.

"Right now I'm healthy but I'm still working on getting stronger because when you pull your hamstring you know that it can always happen again," he said.

While the injuries are frustrating, Moreno is not yet at a point where he is thinking about calling it a day.

"I don't," he said. "I just go day to day and see how my body feels because that is what is going to determine how long I play for."

Whenever he does call it a day, he will walk off the field as something of a legend in MLS history.

That's something he could never have believed would happen.

"It's strange how things happen," he said. "When you first come to a league you never know if its going to go well or not, that's always the first thing you think about. Luckily it has all gone right for me."

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