- The Washington Times - Friday, May 14, 2004

Jaime Moreno’s return to D.C. United after a year of exile with the MetroStars occurred quietly in March, overshadowed by the media hype surrounding Freddy Adu. His re-appearance in a United uniform was viewed with some caution. After all, the MetroStars refused to keep the Bolivian striker, believing he was finished at 30 after failing to regain his form following a herniated disc.

Out of loyalty, United gave its all-time leading goal scorer a second chance, and so far the decision has worked. With a goal and two assists in six games, Moreno is the most productive of United’s forwards and seemingly the hardest working.

“I think Jaime needed a wake-up call like that, being released from New York — it got his enthusiasm and motivation back for the game,” captain Ryan Nelsen said. “Now he’s come back fitter, and the talent is obviously there. He has been such a welcome addition back on and off the field.”

Moreno is making the most of his fitness after a couple of nightmare seasons. He is back to his old habits, getting plenty of touches and making darting runs. There’s a seriousness in his play and a determination to get results. He is still one of the most stylish players in Major League Soccer with his delicate dribbling, and it’s obvious there’s plenty of soccer left in him.

“I was depressed all the time [in New York], but I was fortunate to come here,” Moreno said. “I had such a bad injury, and I had to prove to the coaches and the team that I was fine.”

In the season opener against league champion San Jose, Moreno was stunning, scoring a goal and setting up another in United’s only win this season. Since then he has started every game and played more minutes than any other United striker.

“We’re playing good soccer, and we’ve just got to finish our chances,” Moreno said.

Moreno says he had to take a big pay cut to get back on the United roster after being one of the league’s top players for eight seasons. The big difference is he is playing in a United jersey for the first time without fellow Bolivian Marco Etcheverry providing him with those pinpoint passes.

“I think the whole team and league misses Marco,” Moreno said. “Before, it was totally different because we had Marco and the balls he used to provide for us. The league has got so much better, and we are not playing that kind of football anymore.”

Coach Peter Nowak is still trying to figure out which forward — Adu, Alecko Eskandarian or Ronald Cerritos — to pair with Moreno. Moreno has played only 10 minutes alongside Cerritos, but that may change tonight against Kansas City at RFK Stadium.

Moreno’s improved form hasn’t gone unnoticed; the Bolivian national team has called him up for two World Cup qualifiers next month. He last played for Bolivia in 2001.

Adu alert — The latest nutty story on Freddy Adu comes from England’s Sunday Mirror tabloid. “Chelsea are hoping that love will drive American wunderkind Freddy Adu, 14, into their arms,” the Mirror said. “The Londoners, linked with PSV, want the Dutch club to take him from D.C. United. Adu’s Dutch girlfriend is keen to return home — and PSV have been alerted to the fact that he wants to join her.”

A D.C. United official says the kid is going nowhere and this Dutch girlfriend stuff is all bunk.

And more on Adu — Freddy’s brother, 12-year-old Fro, is three inches taller than his famous sibling. The 5-foot-11 Fro is a freshman at Bethesda’s Georgetown Prep, where he is a central defender. According to S.I. Teen magazine, Fro wants to play for North Carolina because he likes the Tar Heels’ colors. And what of his brother? “He’s all finesse and stuff. I’m more power.”

Record breakers — English champion Arsenal will finish its 38-game season unbeaten if it defeats relegated Leicester City today at home. No team has won the title without a loss since Preston North End did in a 22-game season in 1888-89. The Gunners have broken five records this season and with three more wins can equal Nottingham Forest’s undefeated run of 42 games from November 1997 to December 1978.

The Arsenal game can be seen on Fox Sports World at noon.

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