COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – When Pablo Mastroeni went down with headaches in March, not only did the stalwart 35-year-old's absence create a giant hole in the heart of the Colorado Rapids midfield, it created gaping hole in leadership as well.
So with the captaincy suddenly falling on his lap, defender Drew Moor had the difficult task of wearing the armband in Mastroeni’s absence, with a new head coach in charge and a new tactical formation around him.
But despite the Rapids’ current six-game losing streak, which has seen them slip well outside the playoff picture, teammates and coaches have complimented Moor’s ability to handle the pressure of taking on the added responsibilities in the first extended run of captaincy in his MLS career.
“[Drew] is a good pro,” goalkeeper Matt Pickens – a close friend of Moor’s – told MLSsoccer.com. “He leads by example. He’s in here early, stays late, takes care of himself and does all the good things that a pro does, he leads by example and we need more people like that on the team, to be honest.”
Moor, who has played all three defensive positions as well as holding midfield this year, has had plenty of help adjusting to his new role with the armband, with Pickens and fellow veteran Jeff Larentowicz helping the 28-year-old center back adjust to life as the primary skipper.
“Drew is a kid who comes every day with the same energy and same leadership, and he gives us 100 percent all the time,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com. “But we have other leaders, too. We have Matt, who’s leading the team as well. We have Jeff, who’s leading the team all the time and pushing and making things happen on the field. Sometimes you would like to have three armbands to give them. Leadership comes different ways. But I think Drew has done a good job for sure.”
As for Moor himself, he’s had to make several changes to lead the team the way he wants, and with the Rapids’ slide wearing out his team, Moor is trying to use Mastroeni’s example to lead his team out of their current slump.
“You do have to step up a bit, you have to be more vocal, players do look to you at moments in the game and at moments in the season to say, ‘How can we get out of this?’” Moor told MLSsoccer.com. “I had a perfect example, a perfect leader in Pablo the past couple seasons because he’s the consummate professional, the consummate captain.
"Every decision he makes, everything he says, obviously the way he performs. When I perform, I try to lead by example, and Pablo is a great example of that. And if I’m half the captain he was, or can instill half of what he brought into the team or the rest of the boys, then I’ll consider my captaincy a success.”
GOAL: MOOR VS SEATTLE ON JULY 28
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.