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On soccer: Moreno deserves to be MVP

- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 18, 2008

While the odds are against it, D.C. United midfielder Santino Quaranta thinks it's time for three-time finalist Jaime Moreno to be handed the Major League Soccer MVP award.

”In my mind, no one in the league compares to him,” Quaranta said.

Quaranta has a valid point.

Granted D.C. United has had a turbulent season and Moreno's numbers don't match that of the logical contenders, Landon Donovan (19 goals, nine assists), Kenny Cooper (18 g, three assists) and Guillermo Barros Schelotto (seven goals, 18 assists). But it makes sense when putting logic aside for the moment and looking at the span of Moreno's incredible career. After 13 mostly productive years, Moreno is still posting amazing numbers and is arguably the league's greatest player of all time.

An original from the first season in 1996, Moreno last year claimed the mantle as the league's all-time top goal scorer with 109 goals and has extended his record to 122. With one game left in the season, he still has the chance to become the first “100-100” player - 100 goals and 100 assists. After earning his 99th assist in the 2-1 win over the New England Revolution on Thursday, he is just one shy of the century mark.

And it gets better. Moreno has 10 goals and 10 assists this year, the fourth time he has tallied double digits in both categories in a season. That is matched only by Preki, who walked away with the MVP title twice. But time is running out for Moreno. At 34 years old and with a banged-up knee, he may not have many games left.

That said, the fact that United players Luciano Emilio and Christian Gomez, who earned the award the last two years, means Moreno will likely miss out again.

As for the Golden Boot, awarded to MLS' goal-scoring champion, it's a close race between the Los Angeles Galaxy's Donovan, and Cooper, the FC Dallas striker.

Donovan leads the league with 19 goals in 23 games, ahead of Cooper's 18 goals in 18 games. Both players have a chance to add to their tallies on Saturday. The Galaxy (8-12-8, 32 points) visit the Houston Dynamo, while Dallas (8-9-11, 35) travels to Real Salt Lake. Both teams are still alive in the playoff race, but the Galaxy's hopes hang by a thread.

Donovan is way ahead of the 12-goal season he had in 2006 and 2005 with the Galaxy, and 2003 with San Jose. Both Donovan and Cooper are up for the MVP award. Donovan, who has won three MLS Cups, has never won the big prize.

The battle between Donovan and Cooper could come down to Dallas' match at Los Angeles on the last day of the season, Oct. 26.