If the move of Amando Moreno to Tijuana seemed a bit sudden, it’s because it was.
The New York Red Bulls were still hoping to have the young U-20 player in their roster for the 2014 season, but the realities of sparse playing time along with the opportunity to feature in Mexico for more money lured Moreno away from his childhood home.
“I am a big fan of Amando and he will be the first to say that because he knows that,” head coach Mike Petke explained. “Amando had an opportunity to go to Mexico, presented to him probably by his agent and his family as well.”
When Moreno and his agent approached Petke about the potential move, the Red Bulls boss asked for the opportunity to speak to the young striker on an individual basis. “I know it was very tough for Amando,” he recalled. “I saw it in his eyes when we had our one-on-one talk.”
A product of the Red Bull Academy and a local boy, the move was not easy for Moreno. At 18, he will be leaving the comfort of his home state for the first time seeking the life of a professional footballer in a foreign land. Nevertheless, Petke did acknowledge that the lack of playing time — and a touch of impatience — may have contributed to his decision to explore life South of the border.
“We are in such a what I like to call it the ‘now mentality’ with young players in all sports,” he explains. “It’s just the way life is. They get frustrated. Amando knows what we expected of him. We had high hopes for his development, and at the end of the day, he knew he was the third or fourth in the depth chart at his position.
“I was a player. It is frustrating, but I have never been on a team with this many experienced players [where] most positions have two players with pedigree and experience and in most cases, a young player behind them.”
In his words, Petke tried to explain to Moreno on several occasions that “you can’t have the world all at once,” pointing towards other MLS success stories who took the ‘nurtured’ route instead of the beaten path through world football. He pointed to Sporting KC standouts Graham Zusi and Chance Myers as prime examples.
“They had two years,” he explained. “They understood they needed to be patient and work hard, and now, look at where players like that are.
“There are countless players like that in the league.”
He also looks within his roster as well, pointing towards dynamic midfielder Ruben Bover, who became the story of this weekend’s Montreal Impact clash with a dynamite goal in the second half.
“Ruben falls under the category of a lot of our younger players,” he said. “Yes, they are doing well, and they have potential and we could see something in the future for them, but the way we set up our roster with the experienced players we have, it’s tough for a young guy to break into this lineup.
“The best thing to do is to keep doing the things we expect at practice, make us notice that, and in that way, we would have to find a way of finding these players minutes or we have to let them go and continue their career somewhere else.”
Despite the abrupt nature of their split, Petke had nothing but well wishes for his former youth academy player.
“I still believe in you,” he told Moreno, “I have high hopes for you and and I would love for nothing more than at some point in the next couple of years for him to wind up back here and he would be the number one or two on the depth charts.
“I wish him the best,” he said. “He is a phenomenal kid and has a bright future.”