The following story was published in the Revolution's "Match Day" program for the July 14 game against Toronto FC
When Jay Heaps walks into the locker room for his pregame speech, Jose Moreno waits patiently.
Moreno doesn’t speak more than a handful of English words and gets the game’s formation and tactics through a member of the coaching staff who speaks Spanish. It doesn’t faze Moreno; there’s a universal language in the beautiful game.
“Soccer is just played with a round soccer ball,” said Moreno. “Everyone plays with the same ball.”
Since arriving in early March, Moreno has spent his first half of a season getting used to the style of play in MLS. It has been a gradual process, but then again, so is acclimating to anything new.
“It’s not a secret: it’s a unique, different league,” said Moreno. “The style of play is different than anywhere in the world.
“The whole staff has been treating me the right way … having (Jay Heaps) always playing with us makes it easier,” he continued.
While it has also helped having Spanish-speaking teammates like Fernando Cardenas, A.J. Soares and Benny Feilhaber, Moreno finds that when he gets out onto the field, he can leave the pocket dictionary behind.
Out at training, Moreno analyzes. He watches how his teammates run. He surveys how they jump or how they move the ball. From there, he adapts and alters his game accordingly – often without saying a word.
“It’s easier for me to adapt to 30 players than have 30 players adapt to me,” said Moreno.
But Moreno wasn’t a stranger to some of his teammates and opponents. Previously, he followed the league on television as MLS has seen an influx of Colombian players this year.
“The New England Revolution is a respected team in MLS,” said Moreno regarding coming to the Revs. “My expectations were to do my job the best that I can.”
This isn’t the first time Moreno has had to start fresh with a team. Moreno has seen time in the Ukraine, Argentina, Peru and Romania during the last seven years.
“Soccer is just the same thing every day,” said Moreno.
His passion remains the same every day. It begins with a desire to return to championship glory. He displays elation when he or his teammates score and frustration when chances are not cashed in on. You don’t have to speak Spanish to know what he wants.
“Since I was playing youth soccer. I was taught that there’s a difference between winning, losing and tying,” said Moreno. “I always wanted to be a winner.”
Moreno scored in the sixth minute during his first career start on April 14 against D.C. United. In his four other starts, he’s been right beside Saer Sene. As strike partners, the Revs scored five goals on their way to picking up points in three matches. Sene speaks a bit of Spanish, but it’s the Frenchman’s style of play that actually helped Moreno grasp the Revolution’s attacking system the most.
“Saer is like a South American player. He has very good technique. He’s fast, he’s smart. So that helps me to adjust to him. Saer is a very good player,” said Moreno.
As he works to get back into the lineup following a pair of injuries to his calf and ankle, one thing is clear: Jose Moreno wants to do whatever he can to bring the Revolution back to the playoffs.
Through the entire adjustment process, he still falls back on an old postgame ritual. It dates back to his days of youth soccer in Colombia.
Said Moreno, “I come in the locker room and sit down and say, ‘You know what? I did my best. I gave everything I had and left it on the field.’”