Top Atlantic Cup moments: Santino Quaranta recalls Jaime Moreno, MetroStars double agent
Though Rivalry Week is full of great moments between rival clubs, no matchup has history that dates back to the inaugural year of Major League Soccer the way the Atlantic Cup rivalry does.
And so, in honor of Saturday’s 72nd all-time meeting between the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United (12:30 pm ET, NBC, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), we look back on the greatest moments in the history of the rivalry ... told by the people who remember it best.
Given the depth of the animosity between their respective fan bases, New York and D.C. share a surprising number of faces in their past, thanks to trades and many other shared links. D.C. United's most successful coach, Bruce Arena, spent time in charge of the Red Bulls, and iconic D.C. defender Eddie Pope spent a sizeable chunk of his career in a MetroStars uniform.
And then there's Jaime Moreno.
One of the greatest goalscorers in MLS history, the Bolivian set myriad league and club records at United and played a central role in all four of the club's MLS Cup championships. He also spent one star-crossed, injury-plagued season with the MetroStars in 2003 after a falling-out with D.C. head coach Ray Hudson, scoring just two goals and finding his way back to Washington the following season, where he regained his form so dramatically that many New York fans still refer to him as a "double agent."
One of those two goals came against United, though, in a bizarre match at RFK Stadium on July 5, 2003, that ended with then-16-year-old MetroStar Eddie Gaven scoring the overtime winner after entering the game as a goalkeeper under the since-discarded fourth substitution rule.
Santino Quaranta was a teenage striker for United at the time, and he vividly remembers the awkward homecoming of the man who would eventually become one of his closest friends...
It's a really funny story, actually. In the pregame speech, I think it was Ray and assistant coach John Trask at the time, they were talking about Jaime – and I think they'd laugh about this, too, we made jokes about this in the locker room when he came back – [saying] he wasn't as fast as he used to be, so be tough and be physical with him.
I was thinking in the back of my mind, "Shoot, I don't know if you should say that." Especially knowing him, he's the type of guy that could hurt us. But they were confident that he wasn't as dangerous as he was in the past.
So what happened? As soon as we go out, he scores in the 20th minute, and I'm thinking in my head, "I knew it, I knew this was going to happen." He does one of his typical, really nice goals, a nice run, and that's the end of that. We always laughed about that.
We should've said, "Look, he's really, really dangerous and you've got to really keep him under wraps, it's his first game back at RFK." But I think the staff was confident that he wasn't going to hurt us as bad as he did.
It was classy, because he didn't celebrate and act the fool, you know? I remember that as well. But I had to know he was going to score in that game. I couldn't say it out loud, but I knew. It was crazy, it was one of those days where you kind of had it all in that game.
You just can't make up some of the stuff that's gone on in the rivalry.