Class of 2021: Jaime Moreno Elected to Hall of Fame
Barely four minutes into his Major League Soccer debut on Aug. 7, 1996, Jaime Moreno introduced himself to opposing goalkeepers in the best and only way he could.
He headed Raul Diaz Arce's cross past keeper Mark Dougherty and into the Tampa Bay Mutiny net for D.C. United's first goal of a 3-1 victory at Tampa Stadium.
That feat was duplicated more than a hundred times during the next 15 seasons, mostly for D.C., cementing his status as one of the most imposing strikers in league history.
By the time the Bolivian international hung up his boots for the last time after the 2010 season, Moreno had collected 133 goals, fourth most in MLS history, while collecting a myriad of winners medals for several championships. In 2020, he was selected one of the MLS Best 25 Greatest players.
Moreno's achievements in the U.S. were so influential that he was voted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame on the 2021 Veteran Ballot. He will be inducted during ceremonies at the Hall in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 2.
A special moment you won't forget. Welcome to the Hall, Jaime!— National Soccer HOF (@soccerhof) June 10, 2021
A special thank you to @johnharkes6 for the assist on this one! pic.twitter.com/tq4cb0EL6M
You certainly can make a case that D.C. United would not have won its first title without the addition of Moreno during the inaugural season. He turned out to be the final piece to its puzzle en route to winning the first MLS Cup. He played nine games and accrued three goals and three assists, solidifying an attack that included the great Marco Etcheverry and Diaz Arce.
His resume and accomplishments are so long that the list could break the internet.
Born Santa Cruz de la Sierra on Jan. 19, 1974, Moreno rose to prominence competing for the famed Tahuichi Academy and Blooming before turning pro with Independiente Santa Fe (Colombia) in 1994.
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In his first international venture in the U.S., he scored for his side in Bolivia's 1-1 draw with the U.S. Men's National Team at the Joe Robbie Cup in Miami, Fla., on Feb. 2, 1994.
In his second trip here, he played twice for the South American squad during the 1994 FIFA World Cup as the youngest player (22) on the roster.
After the 1994-95 season at Middlesbrough (England), he signed with D.C. United of the fledgling MLS, helping D.C. United establish the league's first dynasty.
D.C. reached MLS Cup in its first four campaigns, winning three times (1996, 1997 and 1999) with Moreno playing a major role. And that doesn't include a pair of Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles (1996, 2008), the 1998 Concacaf Champions Cup and the InterAmerican Cup.
While he did not score in United's 3-2 comeback extra-time triumph against the LA Galaxy in the inaugural MLS Cup, he did have a role on a goal after Arash Noamouz fouled him at midfield. Marco Etcheverry then found substitute Tony Sanneh with a 40-yard pass on the left wing as the future U.S. international scored D.C.'s first goal in the 73rd minute.
After a 1997 season in which he captured the MLS Golden Boot, Moreno won his second league championship. A dangerous presence for most of the match, Moreno scored the first goal and was named MVP of United's 2-1 win against the Colorado Rapids.
Two years later, Moreno was at it again at the 1999 MLS Cup, scoring the opening goal in the 19th minute of a 2-0 victory over the Galaxy.
His career with United was interrupted in 2003, when he played for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars before a back injury shelved him for the season. The next year he returned to D.C. to add another winners medal to his collection at the 2004 MLS Cup.
In his final match of his MLS career on Oct. 23, 2010, Moreno played the opening 80 minutes in the team's regular-season finale against Toronto FC at RFK Stadium. He converted a 38th-minute penalty kick in United's 3-2 loss. It was his league-record 44th PK, having converted 84.6 percent of his 52 attempts.
It would not have been surprising had goalkeepers rejoiced and held a party, realizing that they would be rid of one of their nemeses for good.
And for good reason.
By then, the striker had accumulated 133 goals and 102 assists in 295 starts through 340 regular season matches. He became the first player in MLS history reach 100 goals and the first player to record 100 career goals and 100 assists. Entering the 2021 season, Moreno ranks fourth in goals (133) and sixth in assists (102).
During 32 playoff games, he has tallied 12 goals and helped set up 10 others.
He also has totaled nine goals in 75 international appearances for Bolivia, performing in five Copa Americas.
Inducted into the D.C. United Hall of Tradition in 2013, Moreno was named to the MLS Best XI team five times (1997, 1999, 2004, 2005 and 2006).
He is married and has five children.
Moreno will be enshrined during the 2021 Induction Ceremony on Oct. 2 at the National Soccer Hall of Fame, located at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.