Amando Moreno considers himself a man of three countries.
New Mexico United’s colorful striker was born in New Jersey and can wave an American flag with the best of them. He played for United States youth national teams from 2012 to 2015 and says the experience helped to jump-start his career in professional soccer.
But the 25-year-old Moreno also proudly represents his family. His father was born in Mexico and his mother in El Salvador, and Moreno maintains ties to both countries. He played professionally in Mexico for Club Tijuana and Dorados de Sinaloa and this month received a Salvadoran passport making him eligible for inclusion in the El Salvador National Team.
Moreno relishes the opportunity to make a name for himself in three nations, but he also has major aspirations for United. He recently signed a contract extension that will keep him with the club through 2023 and Moreno has every intention to give local fans a show.
That can mean both scoring goals (he has eight since joining NMU in 2020) and/or breaking out an eye-catching blonde hairstyle as he did for last week’s win over San Antonio FC.
QUESTION: What is it like having a chance to represent three countries as a soccer player?
ANSWER: Having a family with nationalities outside the United States is obviously a big help. I grew up playing with the youth national teams for the United States, which was a big part of my development and I’m very grateful for that opportunity.
But it’s a big source of pride, especially for my mom, being from El Salvador. When I got the call after I got my passport it was exciting and my mom started crying when I told her. My dad’s side being Mexican and me growing up in the U.S., I take a lot of pride in all of my nationalities.
Q: Soccer is such a big part of your identity. How did you get started?
A: My dad is a big soccer guy and my career would not be possible without him. When I was a kid, my dad wanted to eventually play professionally himself but it didn’t happen for him. Being able to play for my dad is just the biggest motivation I have — apart from being able to play professionally and having an opportunity to win a championship. I keep that thought in my head, that I’m doing it for my dad. It keeps me motivated.
Q: What’s the highlight of your soccer career so far?
A: Obviously there have been a lot of highlights for me. One of the highlights of my life was to play in Mexico and just to be part of that culture. Coming here it’s kind of been the same thing. I love the support we get from the fans and the community. Being able to play here for the next couple years is really big for me.
Q: What, if anything, did you know about New Mexico before coming here?
A: Kind of a lot. I’d heard a lot about the food and I looked up a lot. I saw how crazy the fans are about the team, so all that played into me deciding to come here.
Q: How tough was it signing here and having to play an entire season on the road?
A: It was tough but now it’s exciting getting to play at home and meet our fans. I’m really motivated to keep working hard.
Realistically, if you’d asked me before, I couldn’t have seen myself living here for four years but I’m really enjoying every aspect of my time here. Being able to wake up, come to training and interact with fans at the games, I love it.
Amando Moreno at a glance
Favorite sports team: Cleveland Browns, I’m a big fan
Favorite athlete: Odell Beckham Jr. I respect his hard work and I like a lot of things he does. I look up to him.
Non-sports hobby: I’m a big gamer.
Favorite TV show(s): I’m a big anime guy. I don’t think many people know that. There’s a lot of good animated shows out there. Some people have an attitude about it but you can learn a lot from animated shows.
Favorite musician: Drake
Anything you’re scared of?: Flying. I don’t let it rule my life but I’m a big scaredy cat when it comes to flying. I’d rather get on a bus.
Red or Green Chile? I’d have to say green
Friday: NM United at Colordo, 7:30 p.m., 101.7 FM/ESPN+ (streaming)