FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England coach Jay Heaps spotted his new No. 9 on a scouting trip to Colombia in early December, but he had to wait before pouncing to sign Once Caldas striker José Moreno on loan.
After the Revs inquired about bringing Moreno to MLS for the 2012 season, they soon learned that Moreno wanted to shelve any talks until after the Colombian season took a break at the end of the December.
“We were watching the whole time and hoping,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “It was actually a player decision. He said, 'We don't want to have conversations on a transfer or a loan until the new year.' We were waiting for our time to have a conversation with the player. When we did, there was mutual interest.”
The deal wrapped up fairly quickly, according to Heaps. The well-traveled 30-year-old striker decided he wanted yet another move away from Colombia after spending time on loan in Argentina, Peru, Romania and Ukraine during the past six years, while the Revs desperately needed a touchstone up front to facilitate the play and polish off chances in the penalty area.
“He can do all of the things you want your No. 9 to do,” Heaps said. “We're hoping that the addition will give us [a little help] in a position that we've been desperately looking for, someone that can hold it for us so we can get our midfield up the field.”
Moreno's itinerant career and spotty goalscoring record raise some concerns about his ability to settle into the side as a reliable target man. A haul of 11 goals in 30 games during the 2011 Apertura campaign for Atlético Huila and Once Caldas suggests he can conjure up the necessary production in front of goal, while Heaps said he believes the recent arrivals of Fernando Cárdenas and John Lozano could help Moreno find his footing in New England.
“He's made a lot of moves,” Heaps said. “For us, he's definitely experienced, so that's one good component of that. We want to get him here and see how he adjusts. With John Lozano and Fernando, I think that will help.”
Although Moreno presumably fulfills one of the major personnel priorities ahead of the upcoming campaign, Heaps said more additions could be on the way. A handful of trialists will link up with the Revs next week as the first-year coach continues to round out his squad.
“There are still dialogues going on with others and we continue to have [them],” Heaps said. “You can't make it overnight. As this offseason has gone, we've certainly made some changes and we've made some signings. We'll continue to keep doing that.”