SAN JOSE, Calif. — When the San Jose Earthquakes signed Tressor Moreno this winter, the club touted the 33-year-old former Colombian international as their best answer for a playmaking midfield maestro, a creative force the club has lacked since being reborn in 2008.
The question for right now is whether the Quakes’ No. 10 can add up to a full 90.
Moreno did not start either of San Jose’s first two matches this season, in part because of fitness issues. In making his MLS debut this past Saturday with 27 minutes off the bench during the 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo, Moreno undoubtedly showed some rust, but also signs of why the Quakes feel he could be the key that unlocks opposing defenses.
“I thought going in that I could do what I normally do, and affect the game in the 30 minutes,” Moreno said through a translator after the defeat. “I felt like I had a good effort and did good things on the field. I’m in perfect condition to play, I’m excited to play and I want to get out on the field as much as I can.”
On the plus side of Moreno’s ledger were plays such as his 81st-minute through ball, which set Shea Salinas free beyond the Dynamo backline. The play fizzled out only because Salinas mis-hit his cross for an open Chris Wondolowski, shanking it out of bounds wide of the near post.
On the minus side were passes that didn’t quite connect, most notably his overcooked attempt to switch fields in the 85th minute with the Quakes sending six men streaming towards Houston’s penalty area and the Dynamo’s midfield lagging behind the play. Moreno sent a ball from the center of the field wide right that even the speedy Marvin Chávez couldn’t track down.
“Tressor’s a dangerous player,” Salinas said. “He looks for passes that most players don’t. Sometimes he pulls them off, sometimes he doesn’t. And when he does, they’re good balls. The ball through to me was perfect. So yeah, I thought he did well.”
San Jose head coach Frank Yallop praised Moreno’s play “once he got settled into the game,” which is obviously harder to do when you’re entering as a sub than as a starter. So, will early-rising fans see Moreno in the starting XI against Toronto this weekend?
“Whether he starts or not on the weekend, I think he’s ready to play,” Yallop said of Moreno after practice on Tuesday. “His fitness level is up, he’s doing well with that. He works hard after training a lot. He wants to play, and that’s great. He’s ready to go and he looks good right now.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com