One of the strangest episodes of the offseason appears to be coming to an end. Once Caldas striker José Moreno has drawn a close to his protracted transfer saga, confirming that he will join New England on loan once he completes the visa process.
Moreno and his representative spoke with Revolution general manager Michael Burns on Thursday morning and told him that they would travel to Bogotá to arrange an appointment with the consular officials at the US embassy.
“The player has assured us that he does, in fact, want to come to the US and play for the Revolution,” Burns told reporters on a conference call. “We're going to do our best to [finish] the process as quickly as possible and get him into a Revolution jersey.”
The exact timetable for Moreno's arrival remains somewhat uncertain. Although all involved parties – MLS, Moreno, Once Caldas and the Revolution – signed Moreno's loan deal weeks ago and planned for it to start today, he must still receive his international transfer certificate (ITC) from the Colombian federation to play and his P1 work visa from the US government to travel to Massachusetts.
The ITC should go through in the next couple of days, but it may take a bit longer for Moreno to land his visa. He will need to return to the embassy at a to-be-determined date for his appointment, and may have to wait a few more days after his second visit to secure the necessary paperwork.
Recent signings Fernando Cárdenas and John Lozano progressed quickly through the same procedure in January, but Burns said he can't guarantee the process will move as smoothly for Moreno.
“I can't sit here and say that, for sure, he'll be in uniform on March 10,” Burns said. “That's the hope and the goal. We do anticipate him to be in the US in the next 10 to 14 days, but that's just speculation based on past examples.”
Revolution coach Jay Heaps applied a similar measure of caution about Moreno's influence once he arrives. Heaps said he wants to give Moreno time to prove his fitness and settle into the side before he hands him his debut.
“First and foremost, we have to make sure we get him up to speed with his health,” Heaps said. “We want to make sure he's fully healed from a little bit of a muscle injury. We'll move at the [right] pace when he gets here. It'd be premature for me to tell you that we want him to start on the 10th or in the next game. It's just a matter of how he's going to fit in from, first, a fitness level and, secondly, from a player standpoint.”
It may take a little time for Moreno to overcome the fallout from his reported reluctance to join the club, but the first-year coach insists his squad will welcome its new striker with open arms when he arrives.
“We've been pretty open with the players about where we were with this along the way,” Heaps said. “We've had some closed door conversations about it as a group. We want to continue to be a tight-knit locker room, so these conversations are all above board. When José gets here, the players are going to welcome him.”