Jaime Moreno headed to DCU Hall of Traditions
Even after retirement, Jaime Moreno couldn't stay away from a pitch for very long. Just six months after his final game for the Black-and-Red in 2010, D.C. United hired the prolific striker to coach their U-23 academy players and continue his legacy within DCU. But after three years at the helm of Federal City FC, Moreno says that he is ready to take the next step toward his dream of one day coaching a Major League Soccer club.
"Unfortunately it's my last year here with the U-23s," Moreno told CSN Washington in an exclusive interview. "I'm pretty much done because I want to move on too. I want to see what's out there and I want to see what else I can do to achieve my goals, which is to become an MLS head coach one day."
Moreno says he hasn't spoken to any specific teams thus far. And he understands that pursuing his dream may mean having to leave a club where he spent 14 years putting United on the map by racking up titles as a player, followed by three years of developing DCU's future stars.
"You know what, its been three years, and things happen for a reason. That’s the way I look at life. If I have the opportunity to go somewhere else I’m going to give the best like always I have and try to help kids with all that I learned throughout my career. Then again, it’s a job, a job that we don’t know if it’s going to happen anytime soon. But I’m going to work to see if I have the opportunity to do it. If I don’t, then I will have to go somewhere else."
Though Moreno admits that he preferred his career as a player to his new job behind the bench, the MLS legend is enjoying the process of translating what made him so successful in the league to up and coming players.
"Coaching or playing I always enjoy it, even when I jump in and I play with them," said Moreno. "Coaching is probably more practical because you do need to show them how to do it. Sometimes we think that because they're 20, 21, 22, that you don't need to show them anymore. I think that's a mistake that a lot of us coaches make. We have to show them what to do, where the mistake was, not just kids who are 5-years-old."
A self-described prankster with a sarcastic sense of humor, Moreno prefers to be a players' coach.
"They can see that I always have fun, but being responsible and then after you win you can do whatever you want," said Moreno. "To see the results, to see the things you work on in practice and then you see them on the field it's a nice feeling. That shows you that they are listening to you. That the stuff that you told them is paying off or at least they get it and they're trying to put it all on the field.
"The kids, they do understand where I’m coming from, even though sometimes I’m hard with them. But it’s for the best. I did my stuff, I’m done playing. It's up to them really if they want to go to the next level."
D.C. United has rapidly expanded its academy in recent years and now includes six levels of academy and pre-academy teams stocked with local talent ranging from college players to those still in elementary school.
"It's given the younger faces a little bit more of a chance to get seen. Having the U-23s gives these players the chance for us to talk to [United head coach Ben Olsen] and try to find a new star who has the possibility of going pro. That's our goal. It hasn't been easy."
The farm system has helped develop big name talent like Honduran National team star Andy Najar and current members of the Black-and-Red Bill Hamid and Ethan White. Moreno, however, believes the program could be greater still and is pushing to build the youth league up in order to get even more exposure and experience for its players.
"Usually in other countries you have a game before the real game. For example if we were going to play New York, the U-23 team from the Red Bulls would face our U-23 team. Things like that I think for any guy that is 20, 22, still in college, to have the experience of playing with that many guys it will change the way he thinks. He'll be able to see how great an experience it is to play in an actual MLS stadium."
The MLS youth academy leagues will undoubtedly continue to grow, however D.C. United's will have to do so without Moreno calling the shots.
You can catch replays of some of Moreno's most memorable games as CSN presents "Moreno Moments" all this week starting Monday, June 24 at 7 p.m.. Click here for a full list of replays and times.