Growing up in Venezuela, Alejandro Moreno learned to be proficient in English. His parents insisted on it.
They were so committed to this idea that – when Moreno turned 12 – they sent him to the United States, where he lived with family members in Dallas for a year.
“After the eighth grade, I went back home to Venezuela and every other summer, I returned to Dallas and played with the same Dallas Texans youth team,” said Moreno. “My parents wanted me to learn English. They thought it would be important. They thought it would afford me a better opportunity in the future.”
That future is now for Moreno. In March 2013, barely three months after retiring from his 11-year Major League Soccer career, he joined ESPN full-time as a soccer analyst.
Today, he was named to ESPN’s 11-member analyst team for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Moreno, who will call matches and do studio work during the month-long tournament, spoke with Front Row about his start in sports broadcasting and ESPN’s impact on his decision to retire from football.
How did this position with ESPN come about?
After the 2011 MLS season, I got a phone call from [coordinating producer] Amy Rosenfeld and [soccer producer] Chris Alexopoulos. They asked me if I wanted to come to Bristol and do studio work for the MLS Playoffs. I didn’t know where it came from. I had no idea this was actually a possibility for me. At the time, I told my wife this is something different, why not?
· Played 15 World Cup qualifying appearances with Venezuela
· Three-time MLS Cup champion (2002 Los Angeles Galaxy, 2006 Houston Dynamo, 2008 Columbus Crew)
· 52 goals and 37 assists in 11 MLS seasons with six teams
· Four-time MLS Supporters’ Shield winner (2002 Los Angeles, 2005 San Jose, 2008 and 2009 Columbus)
· Played four seasons at UNC Greensboro (1998-2001)
· Inducted into UNC Greensboro’s Athletics Hall of Fame in February 2014
– Information courtesy of ESPN Stats and Information Group
What went into your decision to retire from professional soccer in December 2012?
Let’s be honest, when I was weighing my options at the end of 2012 and I had the allure of ESPN’s interest on one side, it made it an easier decision for me. I thought this was an opportunity that I can’t let go because of what the options would be in the future if I did well – the things that could come about if I did my job properly. I wasn’t promised anything. I was given an opportunity to come in and do a job.
Can you reflect on your career with the Venezuelan National Team?
I was fortunate enough to play in qualifiers for three different World Cup circles – 2006, 2010 and 2014. I happen to be part of the transformation of Venezuelan soccer at the international level. I went through the tough times. We worked our way up. Slowly, but surely [we] became a more competitive team in South America through a lot of work and a lot of effort. . . I am very proud to have been part of that.