D.C. United forward Jaime Moreno was named Honda Player of the Week by the Professional Soccer Reporters Association (PSRA) for the week ending April 3, 2004 (Week 1). The Bolivian turned in a vintage performance and earned Man of the Match honors in his return to the D.C. United lineup as his goal and assist led his team to a 2-1 victory over the defending MLS Cup champion San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday afternoon in a match which marked the official kickoff of the 2004 Major League Soccer season.
One of MLS’ most prolific goal scorers since the League’s 1996 inaugural season, Moreno’s 72 career goals rank sixth best all-time in MLS history, just one behind Chicago Fire forward Ante Razov (Roy Lassiter leads the all-time category with 88 tallies). The veteran’s 197 career points also place him fourth best in the all-time list.
On the day that saw 14-year-old prodigy Freddy Adu make his professional debut, Moreno made his first appearance for D.C. United following a one-year stint with the MetroStars. A preseason fixture on United’s roster but signed just one day before the game, Moreno was the creative force in attack for the home team, roaming the field in search of the ball and making his characteristic penetrating dribbling runs.
"Last year was tough with a lot of injuries, so this was good that I was able to make an impact,” said Moreno after Saturday’s match. “I know it comes from all the hard work that I've put in during preseason."
The three-time MLS Cup champion brought the sell-out crowd of 24,603 at RFK Stadium to its feet when he opened the scoring in the 12th minute. After drawing a foul on the left attacking flank, it was Moreno himself who nodded home a header that bounced inside the right post off a service from Earnie Stewart. It was Moreno’s first goal in a United uniform since June 19, 2002, (a 2-0 home victory vs. Colorado) and his all-time team-leading 70th career goal for the club.
After San Jose had tied the match on a Ronnie Ekelund penalty kick, it was Moreno’s vision which helped restore United’s lead in the 39th minute. The 30-year-old sliced a pass into a seam in the middle of the San Jose back line which found his strike partner Alecko Eskandarian. The No. 1 selection of the 2003 SuperDraft beat his defender to the ball and lofted a left-footed shot inside the far right post for his fourth career goal as Moreno registered his 53rd career assist.
The Honda Player of the Week award is Moreno’s first since Week 24 of the 1999 season, the year in which he helped United win its League record third MLS Cup championship. The last D.C. United player to capture the honor was Eliseo Quintanilla in Week 17 of last season.
Moreno scored just two goals in 11 appearances during an injury-riddled 2003 regular season campaign with the MetroStars, which ended prematurely following herniated disc surgery on September 2. A D.C. United player between 1996 and 2002, Moreno was acquired by the MetroStars in a blockbuster trade with D.C. United on December 23, 2002.
The Honda Player of the Week is selected every week throughout the MLS regular season by a panel of journalists from the Professional Soccer Reporters Association (PSRA). The Los Angeles Galaxy duo of Andreas Herzog and Carlos Ruiz were the runners-up for this week’s award.