Alejandro Moreno’s debut as a guest analyst on ESPN2 for the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs doubleheader last Sunday was sparkling and smooth. But the events leading up to the Chivas USA striker’s first television gig was anything but.
Moreno arrived in Connecticut few hours before last Saturday’s “Snowtober” snowstorm that left more than a million in Connecticut without electricity. Moreno’s hotel was one of many in the Bristol-area without electricity.
“They gave me a torch (flashlight) and said, ‘Here you go,’” said Moreno. “I was sitting in the dark and wondering, ‘What am I supposed to do?’”
Two nights in a hotel without power and more than 3,000 miles removed from the comfort of his Southern California home did not dampen Moreno’s debut. He turned in one of the best guest studio analyst performances by an active professional soccer player in ESPN’s 16 years of covering Major League Soccer.
Moreno was poised, matter of fact, and insightful in his analysis of the three MLS Cup Playoffs matches to-date on ESPN networks, working alongside host Max Bretos and ESPN lead soccer studio analyst (and former teammate) Alexi Lalas.
“He has been wonderful during these playoffs providing a current player’s perspective on the teams, and he’s done it in an interesting and thoughtful manner,” Lalas said.
More importantly, Moreno is not hesitant about ruffling the feathers of players he’ll end up facing on the field.
Commenting on last Sunday’s post-game melee that led to red cards for Red Bulls Rafa Márquez and Los Angeles Galaxy’s Juninho, Moreno said, “I believe his (Márquez’s) attitude, overall this whole year, has been very very regrettable,” an indictment of the Mexican national team captain.
(Ed. Note: At the end of the first leg conference semifinal Sunday, Márquez threw the ball at Los Angeles Galaxy’s captain Landon Donovan, starting a chain of reactions that led to the referee issuing a red card to Márquez and Juninho.)
Moreno was born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He moved to Texas as a youngster and played college soccer at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Drafted 27th overall in the 2002 MLS SuperDraft by the Los Angeles Galaxy, he has progressively grown to become a leader in the locker room, having won three MLS Cups with three teams – Los Angeles Galaxy (2002), Houston Dynamo (2006), and Columbus Crew (2008).
His play in the MLS has earned him a spot on the Venezuelan national team roster, representing his native country in international matches including FIFA World Cup qualifying contests.
Moreno will continue in his guest analyst role tonight with the second leg conference semifinal doubleheader on ESPN2 – Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union at 8:30 p.m. and Los Angeles Galaxy vs. New York Red Bulls at 11 p.m. – before departing to join the Venezuelan national team for upcoming matches on November FIFA international match dates.
A few thoughts from Moreno about tonight’s doubleheader on ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPN Deportes:
Moreno on the Houston Dynamo vs. Union series:
“Houston Dynamo team was impressive in their approach to the game as the visiting team in Philadelphia. They showed initiative, and for the better part of 60 minutes, thoroughly outplayed the home team. Now, the Union have another chance at it – they will put together a good performance and make the return leg even more compelling.”
Moreno on what New York Red Bulls must do to overcome 0-1 deficit vs. Los Angeles Galaxy at Home Depot Center:
“They have to be more dynamic in their midfield and final third movement. Sometimes, New York is very stagnant with and without the ball. They will not create enough chances against the Galaxy’s good team organization if they are not moving in and out of spaces to receive and deliver passes.”
Moreno on Los Angeles Galaxy’s seeming invincibility at home:
“They are very good but not invincible. Teams have to be solid defensively, patient but dynamic in attack, and take their chances with confidence. Los Angeles Galaxy works very well as a unit, when they score and go ahead, they defend very well as a group and make it very difficult to find spaces.”