Malcolm Moreno talks soccer career, future plans

Iona junior Malcolm Moreno started in 13 games for the men’s soccer team last season.

Ryan McFadden, Sports Editor

Being a college student comes with its challenges, especially if you’re an out-of-state student and have to deal with adjusting to living in another state and learning a new lifestyle. That said, imagine coming to college from another country.

At 17 years old, junior Malcolm Moreno left Madrid—where he was born and raised—to join the Iona College men’s soccer team. Moreno’s pursuit at a collegiate soccer career in the United States forced him to adapt to a whole new country and lifestyle, while proving himself to his coaches and teammates.

Moreno took steps forward during his sophomore season, starting in 13 games and scoring the game-winning goal against Marist last October. An eager Moreno went into the spring season looking to improve his game, but a torn meniscus injury he suffered in an exhibition game against Monroe College forced him to sit on the sidelines and spend countless hours with doctors and trainers.

After going through nerve-racking surgery and spending the entire summer rehabilitating, Moreno is determined to help the Gaels silence their doubters by making a run at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title.

The Ionian got a chance to sit down with Moreno and talk about his three-year journey at Iona, his passion for finance, his love for music, Travis Scott’s latest album “Astroworld” and how Kanye West inspires his creative views.

The Ionian: You are in your third year at Iona. How has this journey been for you especially coming from Madrid?

Moreno: It has been a not-so-easy journey coming here as a freshman. At 17 years old, I had to adapt to a new country, lifestyle, coaches, teammates and a new way of playing the sport. It’s a different way of playing [soccer] in the US than in Spain. It took me some time to adapt. As a freshman, I didn’t start the first 10 games. But once I got the keys, I found out how to make it work.

What was it like adjusting to the New York lifestyle?  

I was born and raised in Madrid, so I [was] used to living in or near a city, so that wasn’t too hard. But the lifestyles are completely different. Even though Madrid is a big city, everything is much more laid-back and we take longer to do everything. [New York] is more hectic. I have to wake up at eight in the morning, go to class, to practice and study.

Iona’s team is filled with players from different countries and cultural backgrounds. How has it been forming a bond with players from all over the world?  

Whenever you play soccer, you are united by the game.  Everyone is super open-minded and welcoming. When I first got here, there was an international presence, but not as big as it is now. Going into my third year, everything is still so welcoming. They understand you [are] coming here for the game. They want to learn about you and learn from their culture.

What was the injury you suffered, which led you to have surgery in April?

It was doing our first spring season game against Monroe College. I was going for the ball and I turned around and my left knee got locked so I tore my meniscus. I actually tried to keep on playing for over five minutes.  I was on the field and I was like “this doesn’t feel right.” I went down and asked for a sub. At first we thought it was just really bad tendinitis. But, I got diagnosed and [had] a MRI. Then they told me it was a torn meniscus.

What was your initial reaction when you discovered that you needed surgery?

Honestly, I was ready for the worst. If it’s a meniscus, there’s a 90 percent chance you will need surgery even if it’s a small tear. Just keeping a positive mindset was key to my recovery.

Could you describe the rehabbing process, and was it challenging on a mental aspect?

That was my first serious surgery ever and I was scared. It was a long four to five months without being able to step on the field. Not being able to run and not being to do the things I’m used to. Not be able to lower body lift. I really had to focus on developing my patience. Learn how to take baby steps everyday with people in the training room. I tried to get better in other things like lifting [the] upper body, learning how to run again.

I was coming off a good season as a sophomore. I was scared that after the surgery I would not be able to reach my level again. Once I got back to the field and start practicing with the team, all those fears wiped away. I feel super confident.

Who are some professional soccer players you look up to?

My natural position is right back, but I can play either the left or the right. I try to look up [to] Brazilian players like Dani Alves or Marcelo [Vieria]. They play for the biggest teams in Europe and for the Brazilian national team. They are not just good at defending. They can go out and score goals as well.

What is usually your pre-game routine?

Every time we go into a game, I like to lock in several hours in advance. I have a playlist called “locked in” with hard hip hop and hard rap to get me going and focused.

What are some songs on your playlist?

I would listen to “Ghostface Killers,” hard electro, metal, death tones and pump up songs.

I’ve read that you’re really into music and sound production. What made you have develop an interest in that?  

I always loved music. I developed a special interest in the sound instead of the writing especially in hip hop and rap. I was trying to figure out some software and how to make the beats sound good. It’s a whole science behind it. I still follow beats and listen to as much music as I can. Eventually when I have more time, I want to make music of my own.

Does your interest in beat production make you view music differently?

Whenever there’s an upcoming album drop, people listen but normally don’t pay attention to everything as a whole. The thing I focus on the most is whether the artist develops a different sound from the last album. Is he growing or is he trying to develop a new sound? I actually spend hours looking for different instrumentals of actual songs on the internet because I want to see how the beat’s done and all the behind- the- scenes things. I’m really passionate about it.

What is the latest album or artist you’ve listened to?  

“Astroworld” [by Travis Scott] is great, but over hyped. It could’ve been better. I really liked Kanye’s last solo album, “Daytona” by Pusha T, Drake with “Scorpion” but he fell off a bit. I like Drake, Kanye West and Travis Scott. I follow pretty much everybody. Also, Lil Baby and Gunna. You got to pay attention to everybody in the game.

What is your favorite album of the summer?

If I had to pick just one, I think I will go with “Kids See Ghosts.” I love Kanye and Kid Cudi getting together.

What is your favorite artist of all-time?

If I had to pick one artist based on my creative views, I would 100 percent go with Kanye West. I think one of the best joint albums of all -time is “Watch the Throne” with Jay-Z. He changed the game with “808s & Heartbreak.” Even “Yeezus,” I liked because I like that style of music.  He’s just a creative mastermind when it comes to videos, music and everything.

Drifting away from music; what is your biggest goal when you graduate from college? I know you’re a junior, but have you thought about it yet?

I would love to stay in New York. I can’t see myself living anywhere else right now. I want to start a career in finance. I’m a double major in finance and international studies. I want to get a job in the city and pursue a career in the financial world, which is just as exciting as sports sometimes.

I’m definitely looking for internships in the spring semester, which is the offseason. I have an internship lined up at the United Nations when I become a senior. I want to go into equity research and all that boring stuff that I find cool.

An internship would be my first experience in the industry, so I’m open to everything. You got to develop all kinds of skills.

This interview has been edited and condensed.