- The Washington Times - Friday, September 17, 2004

Jaime Moreno could be the bargain of the MLS season.

Released by the MetroStars at the start of the season, Moreno was picked up by United on the cheap and given a second chance with his former club. It was a smart move by United, which sent the highly paid Bolivian star to the MetroStars as part of a blockbuster trade in December 2002.

Last week Moreno assisted on all of United’s goals in a 3-0 defeat of Dallas. He leads the club in points (24) with seven goals and 10 assists and is tied for fifth in Major League Soccer in scoring.

Though United’s Freddy Adu has dominated attention this season, the low-key Moreno has made his mark on the field. The veteran might have lost a step or two, but he still knows how to thread a dangerous pass.

However, bitterness lingers about the way the club’s all-time leading goal scorer was treated in 2002. He had a poor year, scoring just three goals in 16 games, but was reluctant to leave the club he led to three MLS titles in seven seasons.

“I was so mad with what Jaime told me they offered him,” former United midfielder and fellow Bolivian Marco Etcheverry said. “I couldn’t believe [what] they did to this one guy who gave a hundred percent for this team and won three championships.”

Moreno spent a miserable injury-plagued season with the MetroStars, scoring just two goals in 11 games. His contract with the league ran out in December, and continuing his MLS career seemed questionable after surgery for a herniated disc.

“He overcame that injury, and now he is showing his true ability,” said MetroStars midfielder Amado Guevara, who played alongside Moreno last year. “I’m sure Jaime was never thinking his career was over. He is a man of great capacity.”

After earning the league’s top wages of more than $200,000, Moreno had to take a big cut in salary to rejoin United.

“I don’t know what his salary is now, but he made a sacrifice, and I feel bad about that,” Etcheverry said. “For me, Jaime is the best forward in this league. No one on that [United] team has done what Jaime did. I have a little disappointment in what they did to me, but I love this team. A few people didn’t respect me. I don’t care. I still love this team.”

Not many players get a second chance, but the talented Moreno is making the most of his.

Game notes — After dispatching Dallas last week, United (7-9-9, 30 points) will be looking for its first back-to-back wins of the season today when it plays Chicago (7-10-8, 29 points) at RFK Stadium.

In 2003, United had a three-game winning streak from July27 to Aug.13 and won back-to-back games Sept.6 and Sept.13.

Meeting the president — Three MLS players were invited to the White House on Wednesday as part of the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.

“We have some soccer stars here,” said President Bush, searching out Eliseo Quintanilla, Guevara and Etcheverry in the East Room of the White House. “Thanks for coming. How’s the season going this year?”

Quintanilla, a third-year midfielder with D.C. United, seemed in shock after meeting the president.

“I feel very emotional at this moment,” Quintanilla said. “I never dreamed I would come to the White House and shake the president’s hand.”

The Salvadoran, who has been out all season because of a broken leg, said he hopes to be back on the team in two weeks.

Etcheverry, who missed a chance to visit the White House in April 1998 with United’s 1997 championship team because of commitments in Bolivia, was happy to make the trip this time.

“I’ve had a chance to meet Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, before when I went to Kosovo and Macedonia, but today was unbelievable being here,” Etcheverry said.

The United veteran, who retired this year, says he is taking a long vacation and will start work on getting a coaching license in 2004.

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