When the names of veterans revered for their tour of service in MLS are brought up, you often hear Chris Wondolowski, Dax McCarty, or Michael Bradley. But Colorado Rapids defender Drew Moor is the current leader in MLS appearances with 416 (392 regular season matches plus 24 playoff matches) in his 17th season. Wondo is the only other player with that many years under his belt (the San Jose Earthquakes forward has 384 regular-season appearances plus 7 playoff matches).
Drafted by his hometown team FC Dallas in 2005, Moor has amassed over 33,300 minutes of playing time with FCD, Toronto FC, and the Colorado Rapids. He has won two MLS Cup titles, a Supporters’ Shield, made numerous playoff appearances, and been an all-star.
When asked what he was most proud of, it wasn’t the silverware or titles Moor put at the top of the list, but instead something more appropriate from the humble leader.
“I’ve been on some championship teams, I’ve won a Supporters’ Shield, I’ve played for three wonderful clubs that have shown a lot of faith in me, and I’ve had some great coaches and teammates, but the thing I’m most proud about is I’m always there. I’m always ready, every single day I come in with a smile on my face, and I’m genuinely happy to be there even during some of the tough moments,” the center back told the Burgundy Wave.
But, why does he do it? Why put your body and mind through the grind for 17 years? Moor said his reasons change depending on the day, but a chat with his current head coach Robin Fraser made him realize why he continues to entertain fans and play the game. “I had a conversation with Robin towards the end of last season after a training session. He called me over and it was about what my thoughts were for this season, whether I wanted to continue playing, because he wanted me to continue playing. I knew that I wanted to continue playing, but I thought quickly why and I love coming out here, I love competing, and I love playing this game.”
“I’m super lucky to be close with Robin because we’ve known each other for a long time,” Moor says of the Rapids legend-turned-head coach. “He and I talk every single day, and we have these conversations every once in a while about how much the game has evolved and how forwards and midfielders are bigger, faster, stronger, better than they were at the start of my career. It’s nice to have a coach that has a pulse on how I feel and what I see, and I feel very lucky to be in that position.”
He continued, “the window, over the course of hopefully a long lifetime, of being a professional is very small compared to 90, 100 years if we’re very lucky. As long as I’m here and I can play, I want to continue to be a player and influencing my club on the field. Whether it’s the training field, the locker room, while we’re traveling, on the game field, I love competing, I love this sport, and I love being around the guys.”
As for how he does it, Moor knows that at 37 years old, his body doesn’t recover or prepare the same way as at 20. “There are times when we were in Tucson Arizona, early April, and it’s 95 degrees and we’re in our second session of the day and I’m struggling to make it through warm-ups without my body breaking down, because this is what happens to one’s body when you’re 37 years old and 17 years into their career.” Every day isn’t necessarily met with the same enthusiasm, but Moor never lets it affect his attitude.
Moor has embraced the terms of his enduring career controlling what he can control and accepting the changes, but still saying, “Even at 37 now, I want to play every minute I possibly can. I understand that I’m not 34 starts per season that I used to be and that’s ok. It is what I feel like in this moment in my life that I’m still meant to be doing,” says the true pro’s pro.
“My mentality going into every season is to put my best foot forward every single day. Now, knowing I’m much lower on the depth chart than I used to be, I need to be ready any time I’m called upon. I still have to prepare as if I am starting,” he explained. “It’s certainly a different feeling than what I was used to but mentality-wise it’s still be prepared. I’ve had to adapt to that. I don’t take ‘professional days’, I don’t say I’m too tired to train. As you get older, you get married and you have kids, your life at home changes but you still have to show up and be ready to go.”
“This is the grind that a lot of people don’t understand. I always say we work 24/7. I have to watch what I’m eating, the amount of energy I’m putting out when I’m home, but it can be a grind,” he admitted.
Moor acknowledges his good fortune, however, and clarifies in a way that doesn’t surprise anyone who knows him. “I will never complain about being a professional soccer player because it’s amazing and I know there’s millions of people that would love to be a professional athlete.” Given that appreciation, he continues prioritizing his job as well, but also sees other ways he can influence the game other than on the pitch for 90 minutes.
“Just because I am a veteran now, I do believe I’m still around because I am a bit of a mentor and I embrace that role,” Moor added. “It’s cool when the young guys listen to me and they come up and ask me questions and rely on me to have answers. My number one job is to be the best center back I possibly can for this club, and after that just be who I always am – a positive person ready to compete every day with a smile on my face, try to stay even-keeled and balanced.”
As far as the 2021 Rapids go, Moor is confident of what the group has learned from last year’s experiences and repeats a common theme of the squad: the Rapids will succeed because they are a team and everyone knows their role.
Moor has played alongside a lot of defenders over 17 years, but really likes the dynamic of his current teammates this season. “There are younger guys, but they’ve got a lot of experience. We’ve all been in teams long enough that we understand how to motivate each other, how to get on the same page with each other, how to compete for spots without an ego.”
“We have a very good coach who is hungry to win and he knows the league and his players very well,” Moor said of Fraser. “We’re going to go as far as our defending as an entire unit. It’s up to us to start that and it’s such a good group to get us where we want to be. We know we’re going to have to work both sides of the ball as a team and we all embrace that.”
As far as his future, Moor is well-aware that boots will eventually need to be hung up and pre-seasons will be for golfing and time by the pool… juuuuuust not so fast my friends! “I know there’s going to be life after my playing career and I’ll embrace that. As long as I’m not too much of a liability when I’m put on the field, and as long as I can do my job and be trusted by my coaches and my teammates, I want to be on the field.”