HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH Q&A: JASON MORENO AND TIM PIERCE OF LA BREAKERS
Jason Moreno, a member of the LA Breakers ECNL Boys U18 team, represents his culture through soccer. In 2019, he joined the Mexican Youth National Team for a training camp in Southern California. Since then, it’s been a dream to play for the Mexican Football Federation.
For Hispanic Heritage Month, ECNL’s Communications Manager Jacob Born interviewed both Moreno and LA Breakers Boys Director of Coaching Tim Pierce about Jason’s time with the club, attending the Mexican National Team Camp, why it’s important to have a culturally diverse club and sharing those experiences among the players, and more.
Jacob Born: What made you fall in love with soccer?
Jason Moreno: I just loved scoring goals. I love the feeling of when that ball hits the back of the net and you’re able to celebrate with your teammates. And then my background too. Being Hispanic, loving soccer is in our blood. My earliest memory of playing soccer was playing in Sunday league, winning the championship and lifting the trophy. As I lifted that trophy, I felt as if the world was in my hands. It was very emotional and something that still sticks with me today.
JB: What’s Jason like as a player and a teammate?
Tim Pierce: He’s got a lot of personality and a lot of flair. He’s a very competitive kid as well, and he pushes his teammates to be better and even challenges his coaching staff to be better. He makes sure everyone is working hard and trying to win games. And you can tell he enjoys playing soccer. That’s ingrained in him culturally too. It’s been a big part of his life and he just loves the game.
JB: Jason, how has ECNL improved your soccer development?
JM: ECNL has improved my soccer development by having such a competitive league. There’s a good game every week, there are no weeks off. This is my last season in ECNL and I just want to make the most of the time I have left with Breakers.
JB: Jason’s been with Breakers for a few years now, how have you seen him grow over the years?
TP: Yeah he’s a guy that’s been with us for quite some time now. He’s always been a dynamic player without a doubt. When he was younger he started out as a centerback and now we use him predominantly on the front line. He’s one of our better goal scorers and can create chances. As for ECNL, it’s one of the most competitive platforms there is out there. He’s challenged every day and every weekend in games. We never play a bad team, it’s always only a goal or two difference between a win and a loss, so they’re good, tight games. I’ve seen him grow a ton as a player. He’s really got a good feel for the game and playing in the top environment has definitely improved him and has gotten him ready for the next level.
JB: Has he committed to playing soccer at the collegiate level? What can coaches expect from him if and when he makes the jump?
TP: He hasn’t committed yet, but he’s got some interest out there. There are coaches who talk to him after games and have been in contact with him. But as a player, he’s very good one-on-one. He can break players down, he can create chances, either getting service from out wide or by cutting inside and working for a shot. But already this season, he’s been banging in goals and getting assists. He’s been racking in points each game. So whoever pulls the trigger on him will be getting a strong athlete and a better person.
JB: Jason, when you were invited to participate in the Mexican Youth National team Camp in 2019, what did that experience mean to you?
JM: Going and participating in the Mexican Youth National Team Camp was an absolute honor. Being at that camp, it was such a great experience and it was an honor to wear that crest on my chest. I hope in the future I can wear it again.
JB: As a coach and club director Tim, how did you feel when Jason was brought into the Mexican Youth National Team Camp?
TP: That was a cool opportunity. Jason was one of a handful of players from our club that was invited. From a Southern California perspective too, the Mexican National team did a unique thing. They dug into the region because all through Southern California, there’s obviously a lot of Mexican Americans and kids that are Hispanic, so there was a big talent pool to choose from. For the kids, it was really exciting too because they’re big fans of the Mexican National Team. They follow the team, they watch the qualifiers, that’s their main team. So for Jason to be invited and to be in that environment, it was great. And when he came back you could tell it helped his confidence on and off the field. It validated what he was doing and showed that there were people paying attention to him and his game.
JB: Jason, what makes Hispanic Heritage Month special to you?
JM: Hispanic Heritage Month is important to me because it gives us, as a community, recognition for all the work we have done throughout our history. As a child, I was born and raised in South Los Angeles. The Hispanic culture is very important to me as my entire family celebrates it. Starting off with “mini” festivals being held at a family member’s house, to ending the night with a full stomach.
JB: Tim, you mentioned there were a handful of players in your club who participated in the camp and even more who share a common heritage with Jason. As a club director, why is it important for your players to share those experiences and their heritage with each other?
TP: Soccer is the world’s game and it brings cultures together. Los Angeles is a very diverse area and I think it’s super important for these kids to share their culture and heritage because it’s important to learn from each other in different cultures. Even on the field, you may pick up something different stylistically because of that different background. I think it’s huge to have that. We have guys from all over the place in LA, so I know that sharing cultures is very celebrated. It’s one of my favorite things about coaching soccer.
JB: How does Breakers celebrate diversity within the club?
TP: I think just one way we do that is through bilingual coaches. We have some that speak two or even three languages so we can reach and positively impact as many kids as possible. Coach Beto Dos Santos is the uncle of Jonathan and Gio dos Santos. He works with our U15, U16, and U17 ECNL teams and has been in our club for 17 years. Coach Beto speaks Spanish with the boys all the time and then is his second language to Portuguese. English is actually his third language. So that’s just one example.
JB: Jason, what do you hope the future holds for your soccer career?
JM: I hope I can pursue my dream of playing professional soccer and hopefully play for the Mexican national team as well.
JB: What advice would you give to future athletes who want to represent their country on the national stage?
JM: The advice I would give to future athletes who want to represent their country on the national stage is to always work hard and challenge themselves every day.