Alejandro Moreno kept saying goals would follow if he continued hustling and executing in the Philadelphia Union's inaugural campaign.
He was right.
Moreno scored his first goal of the season -- and first as a member of the Union -- in the ninth minute of what wound up being a 3-1 loss at FC Dallas on a brutally hot Sunday night at Pizza Hut Park.
The 31-year-old forward was knocked to the ground during a scramble in the area, but he stuck with it and eventually sent the ball past FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. The initial shot was fired by Sebastien Le Toux and subsequently blocked by Hartman. Moreno stayed patient and got the first goal he was waiting for all season.
Moreno scored 13 goals the past two years for the Columbus Crew – four in 2009 and nine the year before. With 44 career goals, Moreno wasn't accustomed to being scoreless past the season's halfway mark.
Through the first half of this season, however, Moreno never became frazzled when he couldn’t capitalize on his scoring chances. He knew they would keep coming.
Just like Sunday night.
“Yeah, we broke through the middle and Sebastien hit a nice little ball from Justin Mapp, and he’s able to cut inside, takes a shot on goal and Kevin Hartman makes a nice save,” Moreno said. “And when the ball just kind of pops up in the air, and I was just trying to stay on my toes and see if the ball bounced my way. And as it did, I just tried to get a touch on it.
“It was kind of an awkward touch and I didn’t really know if the ball was going in and I guess it was going so slow that it was a changeup. Everybody whiffed it and it just went in. I’ll take it.”
Even with a balky knee that has bothered him for much of this season, Moreno has played just as hard as always. If a play seems lost, Moreno will keep running to make something happen. Quite simply, he gives everything he has every second he’s on the field for the Union.
Moreno won an MLS Cup as a rookie with the L.A. Galaxy in 2002, with the Houston Dynamo in ’06, and then with the Crew in ’08.
As a member of the Union, Moreno has won over his Philadelphia teammates with his relentless play and passion for the game.
When the Union return home to prepare for Wednesday’s match against Real Salt Lake, you can expect to see Moreno taking the same approach.
“We’ve just got to continue to work,” Moreno said. “We get an opportunity in front of our fans to try to get a positive result and hopefully we can get this thing moving forward and in the right direction. It’s another opportunity for us to continue to grow as a team, but our growth is dependent on our work and our commitment as a team, and hopefully, we can do that on Wednesday.”