Injury gives Zip perspective

“Soccer runs deep in the veins of the Moreira family. Chico Moreira, father of senior forward Pablo Moreira, played on Uruguay’s national soccer team and professionally for the Chicago Sting, Cleveland Crunch and Wichita Wings. Chico was Pablo’s hero growing up, and remains an influential figure in his son’s soccer career.”

Soccer runs deep in the veins of the Moreira family.

Chico Moreira, father of senior forward Pablo Moreira, played on Uruguay’s national soccer team and professionally for the Chicago Sting, Cleveland Crunch and Wichita Wings.

Chico was Pablo’s hero growing up, and remains an influential figure in his son’s soccer career.

But for as strong as the love for soccer is in the hearts of the Moreira family, Pablo’s dream of playing collegiate and professional soccer was nearly crushed in 2005.

That year, Moreira suffered a tear to his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee before the University of Akron’s best season in team history.

He had to watch the team advance to the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament from the sidelines, knowing he could not be a part of the team’s quest for a national title.

Moreira watched the team rise to elite national status, becoming the No.1 ranked team in the nation.

As Moreira struggled with the low point of his career, he witnessed the UA soccer team experience the high point of its existence.

For as low as he felt, the happiness he shared with his teammates over their success overshadowed the medical redshirt season he was having on the sidelines.

One year later, Moreira became an All-Mid-American conference first team selection with five goals, four assists and three game-winning goals.

Two years later, Moreira is experiencing what he says is the high point of his Zips soccer career.

I had a good feeling about this season, Moreira said. I had a feeling this team was going to do well and I’ve had it all year.

The team has won the MAC regular season conference title and though Moreira is having another All-MAC caliber year, he stresses the importance of team play.

He has been a staple in the Zips’ success this season but realizes that individual success can only be obtained by a cohesive, unselfish team.

We put all of the statistics aside, he said. We just care about winning.

In conversation, he always references we, and never I.

Any individual acknowledgment is followed by how his teammates helped him get there.

The Broadview Heights native has five goals in 2007 and 13 for his career.

He has scored four game-winning goals and has gone from starting zero games his freshman year to starting all 19 in 2006 and 16 of 17 so far in 2007.

Moreira took the downtime on the sideline in 2005 to reflect on his soccer career thinking about how athletes never think a career-ending injury will happen to them.

It was a huge wake-up call, he said. If it would have happened later in my career, even this year, it all could have been over for me.

The low point of his career defines him more than his individual accomplishments afterwards.

For as much as his family’s roots are embedded in the soccer landscape, his injury was the reality check that put everything into perspective for him.

I appreciate the game a lot more, Moreira said. Ever since my injury, my love for soccer has been great and I have no desire to stop playing.

He says his body is holding up, and according to his father and team coaches, that’s a good thing. They believe he has the potential to play at the next level following his Zips career.

Moreira had enough time to stand around and watch his teammates live his dream during the 2005 season and doesn’t plan to do it again.

I definitely don’t want a 9-to-5 job after this season, he said. I think I’ve put myself in a good situation to play after college, whether that be in Major League Soccer or overseas.

Chico Moreira, his father and mentor, raised his son in a home where soccer was commonplace–always one of the biggest parts of his life –and that has been a mainstay throughout Pablo’s life.

Home is where the heart is, and for Moreira, home is the soccer field.


” #1.1361554:2700735588.jpg:NCFQLPGAIGHIEGO.20070814204702.jpg::Jeff Harwell / Zips Sports Photography”