DCU to honor former star Jaime Moreno

DCU to honor former star Jaime Moreno
September 13, 2013, 9:00 am
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In a season that has been hard to make sense of for D.C. United, finally something that does make sense. On Saturday afternoon at R.F.K Stadium, United will honor retired legend Jaime Moreno and fittingly the LA Galaxy will be the opposition.

On Saturday Moreno will enter D.C. United’s Hall of Tradition. He is the only player in MLS history with 100 goals and 100 assists.  Moreno’s 133 goals place him second all-time behind Jeff Cunningham and only one ahead of Landon Donovan, who will be back from U.S. Men’s National Team duty and playing for the Galaxy Saturday.

D.C. United and the Galaxy helped establish Major League Soccer. They delivered quality. They entertained. They gave credibility to MLS.  The two teams capped the inaugural season in 1996 with an entertaining and dramatic final played in a driving rain in Foxboro, Massachusetts. United rallied from two goals down for a 3-2 win and a rivalry was born.

While as teams United and Galaxy provided MLS with marquee attractions, it was as an individual that Moreno added spice and star power to a league looking to find its place in a crowded sports landscape. Signed late in United’s first season, Moreno along with Marco Etcheverry and Raul Diaz Arce formed the team’s “magic triangle” and trophies followed.

By 1999 United was in its fourth MLS final in four years. It was the Galaxy’s first trip back to MLS Cup and a chance to atone for the loss in 1996. Once again the two teams met in Foxboro with a championship on the line, and it was Moreno that opened the scoring and put United on its way to a third championship in four seasons with a 2-0 win.

To be sure the two teams share a history. The present is a study in contrasts. The Galaxy has won the last two MLS Cups and continues to move forward without David Beckham. . After a self-imposed late start to the season, Donovan is very much back in stride for club and country. Donovan, who scored Tuesday for the U.S. against Mexico, is second on the Galaxy in scoring with 8 goals and 7 assists.

United is trying to find its stride ahead of its October 1st U.S. Open Cup final against Real Salt Lake. Eliminated from playoff competition, United—with perhaps the exception of last week’s 1-0 loss at Chivas USA— has been playing with a sense of purpose. In its last two home games United has scored four goals and earned four points.

While United has internal motivation, the Galaxy is dealing with outside pressure. The Galaxy has to deal with fixture congestion and congestion in the standings.  Saturday’s game against United is the beginning of a stretch of four games, including two CONCACAF Champions League matches, in eleven days.

Along with the heavy schedule, the Galaxy needs to continue its positive run. The Galaxy has earned points in four of its last five leagues matches, including three wins, but is in a tight squeeze in the Western Conference. The Galaxy is currently in third place on 27 points form 43 games, only one point ahead of both Colorado and Portland.

Along with Donovan, first-eleven regulars Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Keane will also be back from international duty.  With 12 goals and 10 assists in 16 matches, Keane, who scored in the Republic of Ireland’s 2-1 loss to Sweden in World Cup qualifying, is on pace for his best season in MLS. Gonzalez will help anchor a defense that posted consecutive shutouts before last week’s 1-0 loss to Colorado.

In dealing with the challenge from the Galaxy, United will have its Canadian internationals Dwayne De Rosario, Kyle Porter and Dejan Jakovic back and available for selection. In addition Chris Pontius will be looking for more of a role after playing 25 minutes last week against Chivas.

Pontius missed the previous seven matches with a hamstring injury and is hoping for a strong finish to a season filled with health struggles. In 14 matches this season, Pontius only has one goal and is eager to back to the form that produced 12 goals last season and an MVP award at the 2012 MLS All Star Game.

A win over the Galaxy by United would be the prefect addition to Moreno’s induction into the Hall of Tradition.  In 14 seasons with United, Moreno helped capture each one of the club's 12 trophies. Even as a spectator, he will be pulling for another United win.