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MLS: FC Dallas at Colorado Rapids

Drew Moor closes out a legendary career in typical style

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Moor started his MLS career 18 seasons ago as the 6th overall draft pick to his hometown Dallas Burn out of Indiana University. Four hundred thirty-five appearances and just shy of 36 THOUSAND minutes later (so far), Drew called that stellar career to an end at home in Colorado against that very same side in a very Moor-esque fashion.

“You kind of think about the end at the beginning, like ‘how long can I do this?’” he asked postgame, soaked in a celebratory beverage. “Certainly, retirement has been on my mind for a while now, but not necessarily that ‘I’m ready to retire.’ I always said I’m going to play until my legs fall off until I can’t carry out my duties on the field.”

He did carry out those duties when his team needed him most on Saturday in Commerce City. And while his legs did not fall off, his teammates did carry him off the field.

With a 1-0 lead and the match winding down, the plan was to bring Drew on for a late-game cameo of honor before he hung up his boots. Instead, a Colorado Rapids red card in the 79th minute required a defender to be subbed in. “I know (HC) Robin (Fraser) wanted to get me in the game, and again this wasn’t exactly the situation, but we needed to put another defender on, and so Robin goes, ‘let’s get him on,’” he explained to Burgundy Wave.

Moor entered and immediately did what he does best – the dirty work and anything and everything necessary to preserve the victory.

“I don’t really remember what I was thinking because I wanted to enjoy the occasion, enjoy the moment, but I also had work to do. It was just getting out there, and of course, we’re defending a corner kick as soon as I come on, and I’m marking Matt Hedges, and I think he actually got a header that I was able to throw him off a bit, so it was just business as usual.”

Business as usual should be Drew’s legacy, especially in his 10 seasons with the Rapids. No one epitomizes that mantra more than him, as he’s been a shining example for teammates and opponents alike. “There’s a lot that I’m going to miss,” he explained thoughtfully when asked what he’ll think about down the road.

“We don’t have enough time here for me to list everything, but definitely at the top of the list the people: my teammates, my coaching staff, trainers, equipment guys, media (I appreciate that, Drew, even if it’s just for our benefit), sports scientists….Everybody plays a role here. I’m going to miss the banter in the locker room and on team busses, team flights, and team hotels; that’s what I miss most. It’s not the wins; it’s not the games, it’s not the trophies, it’s the people that help you get those things and have helped me along the way”.

While the decision surely was not an easy one, it almost became one given to Moor recently after a particularly lingering training session recovery at home. “Last week, I got home from training and wasn’t feeling great. I was in our bedroom, and I looked at my wife Shelby and said, ‘I think I’m gonna retire.’ She kind of said, ‘ok….what are we going to have for dinner?’ Certainly, being able to spend more time with my family it’s just time – it’s been 18 years.”

“I’ve had a couple of nagging injuries this year,” he elaborated for fans. “When you’re 22, and you have nagging injuries, you feel a lot better than when you’re 38 having nagging injuries. In the last couple of months my body’s not quite doing what my brain’s telling it to do near as quickly and as well as it used to. If I can’t, with confidence, go out on the game field and perform well enough to justify being out there, to me, it’s time to call it a day. Nobody put pressure on me; nobody said you’re starting to slow down; in fact it was just all positive. Again, in training, the last couple of months haven’t been great, but nobody’s complained, nobody said anything; it was all positive and great support.”

A major part of that support is Drew’s Head Coach and friend Fraser. The two have been linked for much of Moor’s 18 MLS seasons but only really became acquainted upon Drew’s move to Toronto from Colorado in 2016. “Drew played with Greg Vanney in Dallas, and we had an event in Arizona in 2006, and I was like, ‘this guy’s pretty cool, and he’s so skinny, and he’s not very big. Why does he keep winning headers?’ ” says Robing recalling his first meeting the young center back in his good-natured style.

“So there was an immediate appreciation for Drew and what he does give his physical characteristics. There are two things that stand out about Drew about soccer: He’s not overly fast, and he doesn’t look particularly strong. I’ve seen Drew get into the most unbelievable challenges and stick his head in places where nobody should stick his head, and I’ve seen him be on the wrong end of some really hard challenges, and I can’t believe he just gets up and keeps playing?!”

“So when he came to Toronto in 2016, it was my first time getting to work with him and getting to know him. I’d kind of admired him from afar; good player and scores goals – I don’t know how he scores goals because he’s not that big – but his timing is unbelievable in the air. I got to know him during that time period, and immediately it was not lost on me that this is one of the classiest people I’ve ever met in soccer, and I’ve been in professional soccer 32 years.”

Talk to any of Drew’s current or former teammates and coaches and you’ll likely get a very similar description as Fraser gave Saturday evening. “I got to know him, got to admire him, got to realize what he’s like as a person, what his character is like, what he’s like as a teammate, what he’s like as someone to coach, and I can’t say enough about him.”

“After 18 years he’s one of the best centerbacks that’s ever played in this league. I bounce back and forth between him as a player and him as a person and it’s all wrapped up in this amazing bundle of something that every coach would want and every team would want. I’ve seen how he is in various scenarios when things are good and things are bad, and the thing I love about him is he’s so level. He’s always positive and he’s always about the team. He’s one of the most selfless players I’ve been around.”

John Babiak

When Fraser returned to Colorado as Head Coach, Moor was immediately a positive influence he wanted in his young squad, remembering, “I come here, and we’re looking for some things we need for the team, and it was an easy sell for (GM) Padraig (Smith) because of Drew’s reputation here with the Rapids.”

As Drew has said in the past, he understands that he’s no longer a 90-minute guy, but it’s what he does on the training pitch, and in the match time he does see that makes a difference regardless. “He came here knowing his role might be a little bit different as he’s getting older and he’s embraced it,” says Fraser very straightforward. “The first year came in and won a starting position and was a starting center back until Covid hit. Whatever has been asked of Drew he does it with the utmost class and utmost professionalism. What he has done for us here I can’t thank him enough for.”

“I’ve dedicated everything I have to being a good professional and playing in so many games. Hopefully, some other players look at that and feel like they’ll want to do the same things,” Drew told Burgundy Wave earlier in the 2022 season.

“If you’re not a good example on the field playing – with the work you put in, the concentration you put it, trying to compete and win starting spots regardless of what the starting team is - you’re already not been a great example for the young guys. From there, be a good teammate, be a voice, be somebody who can help not just the young guys, but the older guys as well, but absolutely be the best centerback I can possibly be.”

“When I first took over we had a very young team, a lot of young players, inexperienced, really good guys, but anywhere we could add guidance and leadership we wanted to,” said Fraser. That’s exactly what he ended up getting back with Drew. “When I had the opportunity to get Drew I didn’t even hesitate. What he’s been able to do for us the last few years is absolutely phenomenal.”

“Whether he’s playing every minute – last year we adopted a term for him ‘the closer’ – no matter what was going on in games we’d bring him in towards the end if we were leading and he’d close games out. It got so much to the point that players, we would score a goal to go up late, and defenders was running over going ‘can we get Drew on?’ because there’s such a calming influence about him and he’s so good in how he handles the players around him.”

To listen to Robin describe Drew, Moor sounds very much like one to become a successful teacher of the game and a coach in the near future. “Very few guys know how to deliver a message. There are guys who deliver the information without emotion, and it’s I’m yelling at you, it’s not because I don’t like you, it’s because it’s what the situation requires. Drew is one of the best I’ve seen that has the understanding of the balance of when he needs to kick somebody in the rear end and when he needs to pat them on the back. He’s absolutely phenomenal at choosing how to deliver the message. There are very few centerbacks that I’ve been around who know how to deliver the message, and I think the reason he can do that is the person he is. He’s such a genuine and selfless person that it carries over into the way he carries himself in the locker room and on the field, and guys understand that if Drew tells them something, it’s because it’s what needs to be done and there aren’t a lot of guys who have that skill.”

“He’s been so instrumental in the success of this team in the last three years and so instrumental in the holding and shaping the culture in this locker room that he will be sorely missed”, wrapped up Fraser on his friend Moor, with a wish that many Rapids fans would surely echo. “I hope that he’s around here for a long time because whether he’s playing or not playing, he’s the type of person I enjoy being around.”

The next time fans will see Drew around Dick’s Sporting Goods Park will be for his addition to the Ring of Honor in 2023 as announced by Padraig Smith at this year’s Burgundy Affair. As someone who’s covered Drew’s time in Denver from his first stint to his last match in 2022, I couldn’t agree more with Robin – he’s the type of person I enjoy being around. Thanks for the memories Drew!

John Babiak
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