Jaime Moreno, Kevin Payne among ’21 Soccer Hall of Fame class originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Jaime Moreno, D.C. United’s all-time leading goal scorer, and Kevin Payne, the president and general manager who led the Black-and-Red to four MLS Cups, have been named to the 2021 National Soccer Hall of Fame class.
Moreno scored 131 goals in 329 games played with D.C. United and was an MLS Best XI selection in 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005 and 2006. Moreno was the driving force as the striker up top behind United’s MLS Cups in 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2004, all of which came with Payne connecting the puzzle pieces together for the club’s most successful run.
Joining Moreno and Payne in the 2021 Hall of Fame class were Christie Rampone, the only person to win the women’s World Cup in 1999 and 2015, as well as USMNT great Steve Cherundolo.
Payne, now the president of U.S. Club Soccer, was surprised by former D.C. United and current New England coach Bruce Arena alongside U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati when given the news that he’ll be inducted under the “builder” category. Two stints for a combined 15 years in upper management for D.C. United, Payne also guided the club to two U.S. Open Cups in 1996 and 2008.
Moreno was likewise given the news in a surprising manner. Former teammate John Harkes, bestowed the news upon a proud Moreno, who was shortly surrounded by family and friends celebrating the occasion.
Now the coach of D.C. United’s under-23 squad, Moreno was all class as a true goal-scoring striker during his MLS days. The Bolivian forward played in 15 seasons from the league’s inception in 1996 until 2010, scoring 145 goals in 340 appearances. His 109th goal in 2007 set the then-MLS all-time goals record, but his all-time mark didn’t last long after his retirement when Jeff Cunningham broke it a year later. Since then, Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski have topped the leaderboards.
Still, each touch Moreno took looked even more effortless than the last and his finishing ability was unparalleled in the early days of MLS. Along with Payne, he’s helped inspire and take American soccer to the next level and now both are being deservedly recognized.