Many would call Alejandro Moreno a seasoned veteran in the sport of soccer, but he’ll be the first to tell you he was constantly learning – right up until his retirement from the game just last month. The former Union forward was a winner of three MLS Cups and two Supporters Shields during an 11-year career playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy (2002-04), San Jose (2005), Houston (2006), and Columbus (2007-09), the Union in 2010 and ended with back-to-back seasons in Southern California with Chivas USA.
That chapter is now closed and a career in broadcasting is Moreno’s next foray.
Not only as a color commentator for select matches on ESPN, but this season Moreno became the newest member in the booth alongside play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera for all locally televised Union matches.
Moreno sat down with philadelphiaunion.com and talked about his newest venture, coming back to Philadelphia and in many ways how a so-called “perfectionist” is constantly learning new things.
philadelphiaunion.com: What was having your career come to a close like for you personally?
Alejandro Moreno: When last season came to an end, I took some time to think about some other opportunities that were in front of me. I even thought about the possibility of continuing to play, but it had to be the right situation. The right situation didn’t come about and so I just began to think about what would be best for me and for my family most importantly. I was looking for stability, I was looking for a place professionally and personally where I wanted to have control over what would happen with my career. And I have to say that ESPN, who I worked for during the last two [MLS] playoff coverage in 2011 and 2012 was more than gracious and certainly put themselves out there and provided me with an opportunity. Alongside that, after very careful thought and discussions with my family and my wife, I thought it was best for me to jumpstart the next phase, if you will, of my professional career rather than naively sit back and observe the decline of my soccer career.
PU.com: Talk about the transition from your playing days into your now new profession as a television broadcaster and analyst?
AM: I physically could’ve probably played for a couple of more years, but I didn’t feel like I wanted to be a part of the lowest common denominator. I have been a person who strives for the very best and I push myself to set a standard for myself and I did not want to perform below that standard. This was a chance for me to smoothly transition out of the game into an arena that though it’s new for me I feel very comfortable doing it and I am willing to learn, willing to grow and willing to put all of the work I put into my soccer career into by broadcasting career now.
PU.com: What are some of the challenges for you now in this new role?
AM: The real challenge is to be able to put into words what you see and what jumps out at you on the field and put it in a manner so that the viewer can also see what you are seeing out there. Also, explaining it all in a very limited timeframe that is challenging in itself. For me, the biggest challenge is everything that goes on around the production of the game that I simply was not familiar with as a player… as a broadcaster there is a whole lot of stuff that goes on in the production of a game in your own personal preparation, getting the information and materials that you need, but getting enough storylines that may come up during the game or ones that you need to anticipate and having said all that, you prepare as best as you can and then the game changes. It’s about being able to think on your feet, being able to put together a thought that makes sense, that’s a challenge but for me in many ways it’s very exciting and I’m talking about soccer which is something I am very comfortable with.
PU.com: Why Philadelphia? What made you want to come back to this region?
AM: As I was going through the opportunities and options that were available, the Philadelphia Union came about and it made sense on many different levels. Of course, I had done work with ESPN, but it was important for me to get the repetitions that I needed in order to continue to grow within this profession. And to be able to do it, alongside a guy like JP Dellacamera, who his experience is very valuable to me and I will pick his brain every single moment that I can, because I know that he’s been around this business and an opportunity to learn from him was something I couldn’t turn down. Also, I have a home in the area. When I was here with the Union I expected to be here for a long time, for whatever reason that did not work out…but I kept my home here and I knew it was a possibility for me to come back at some point. It made sense for me to come back to the Philadelphia Union because this is a place I did not want to leave in the first place.
PU.com: Being a player for such a long time and even for a time here in Philadelphia, when you look at this year’s team what do you see, specifically on attack?
AM: Well, I think this is a solid group and I think [Union manager] John Hackworth has done a good job of putting together a group of players that are truly going to work for each other. This is a group that is going to commit themselves into making Philadelphia Union fans very proud. On the attacking front, I know certainly fans are looking forward to seeing Sebastien Le Toux do well at PPL Park, and I am sure he is very excited to be back in the Philadelphia area, where he has found most of his success in Major League Soccer. You bring a guy in like Conor Casey, who when healthy, has been a very good player in this league for a long time and then the story of Jack McInerney who has a chance to establish himself as a goalscorer in this league over the course of the season. Now, all of those things need to come together and that takes some time, which is certainly something that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the job of the coaching staff to find the right pairings and the right matchups to allow this team to maximize their potential in the final third of the field.
PU.com: Thanks for you time, Ale. Anything we might have missed?
AM: People always look at the forwards or the attacking players but there’s got to be a source of creativity within the middle of the park and if you look at the attacking midfielders on this team, there is no one more talented than Michael Farfan. It’s important now that Michael takes the next step in his career and establishes himself as not just a player that has shown flashes or that has some talent, but as a commodity in this league. If all those things are put together then this Philadelphia Union team will certainly be more than just competitive.
Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org