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CelticKing
09-26-2008, 10:40 AM
Moreno Finds A Home In Columbus (http://www.goal.com/en-US/Articolo.aspx?ContenutoId=883404)

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Leading scorer for the MLS-topping Columbus Crew, Venezuelan international Alejandro Moreno sees good things ahead for himself and the team.

It sure is an exciting time to be a Columbus Crew fan. Imagine sitting in the stands of Crew Stadium with your team firmly atop not just the Eastern Conference, but the entire MLS, and showing no signs of slowing down.

Now, imagine how exciting it is to be one of their players.

“If I said it wasn’t a very exciting time for us, I’d be lying,” Crew striker Alejandro Moreno told Goal.com this week. “Part of our success has been our preparation for each game, we are always mentally involved. We fight and we battle for each other and that translates into us being a successful team. It’s all about believing in yourself and your teammates and so far, that has translated into first place for us.”

The 29-year-old Venezuelan has been a big part of the Crew’s success this season, contributing eight goals, which leads the team, and four assists in 24 matches. But don’t talk individual numbers with him; it’s all about the team.

“We focused on getting off to a good start,” said Moreno. “You sometimes start off well, then maybe hit a wall, a lull, but from there it’s important you pick up the pace and get things going again. And that’s exactly how our season has gone. We hit a rough patch, but we came through it a solid team, and that is what is really important, the play of the team as a whole.”

It’s hard to get Moreno to talk about his personal accomplishments, but effortless to get the outspoken UNC-Greensboro alum to heap praise on his teammates.

When talking about the Crew’s success this year, you start with one name and one name only: Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Not surprisingly, Moreno gushed about the creative Argentinean midfielder, who leads the league in assists, and their strong connection.
“Our relationship is very good because we know what the other brings to the table,” said Moreno. “I’ll battle for the ball and hold it up and get it back to him. Then he’ll attract the defenders to him, but is able to find passes that others can’t. And being that he’s attracted so much attention frees the rest of us.

“Guillermo is just an excellent player with lots of experience and he brings that to the field every time he plays.”

Moreno is also proud that Schelotto is receiving considerable chatter about the MVP award. But again, he stressed that Schelotto is just contributing to the team effort, albeit a big contribution.

“There is a lot of focus on the MVP situation and Guillermo is very important to us,” said Moreno. “But what’s really important is the play of the collective unit. Everyone is working well together, doing their job, and for obvious reasons when he is on the field we are capable of quite a bit.”

Another huge factor in the Crew’s success has been the player of the team’s younger players, such as Robbie Rogers, Eddie Gaven and Chad Marshall. Moreno recognizes that these players are vital to the team’s performance, and acknowledged what they have brought to the table thus far.

“They are key for us,” said Moreno. “We depend on them and they have basically had to mature as the year went on, they’ve all done very well. We joke with Gaven about how long he’s been in the league given his age, but he’s an excellent player. Rogers has scored some big goals for us this season and obviously Marshall has been outstanding in the back.”

Led by Moreno, Schelotto and captain Frankie Hejduk the Crew have 47 points through 25 games and already clinched a playoff spot with five games remaining.

Their next test comes in the form of the New England Revolution, who are five points behind them in the Eastern Conference. These two teams played a few weeks ago and Columbus won 4-0 at home.

This weekend’s matchup is on the road and it is arguably the biggest game of the year for the Crew so far. With a win, Columbus can all but wrap up the conference, but a loss could make things awfully interesting down the stretch.

“It’s another tough game for us,” said Moreno. “The end of the season is always a tough stretch, but last time we played them, we did very well. We came out firing and played very well, and I’m sure New England will look at that match very carefully going into Saturday. But we are a very good road team and we just have to go in their and take full advantage of our opportunities and stay organized defensively.”

Moreno play in MLS has also earned him a recall to the Venezuelan national team recently for World Cup qualifying, something he considers a validation of the hard work he has put in with the Crew.

“It’s something you’re always fully committed too, you’re representing a whole country, a nation of people,” said Moreno. “You dream of the possibility of making it to a World Cup and in our situation every game counts. Ever since you were young, you always dream of representing your country, and for me it’s been very challenging and at the same time, very rewarding.”

For now though, Moreno is content playing on any stage. He has bounced around some in the MLS, starting with Los Angeles, then spending San Joe and Houston. Now in Columbus with 151 MLS matches under his belt, Moreno is excited about where his career is at the moment and is thrilled to be a part of what’s going on in Columbus..

“I’m really enjoying the success we are having at the moment,” he said. “I’m enjoying everything that this season has to offer, the training sessions, my teammates, and it’s great because not every season is like this. I’m just really comfortable in Columbus, it’s become home for me.”

That must come as good news to Columbus fans. But right now, with the way the team is playing, all news seems to be good news for the Crew faithful.