Commerce City, Colo. – Statistics in soccer are generally reserved for offensive players.
However, Rapids center back Drew Moor achieved a feat during the 2010 season that only one other field player in MLS history had previously accomplished.
Moor played every minute of every MLS regular season and playoff game AND was recognized as MLS Cup Champion. The only other field player that can claim this is defender Todd Dunivant, who did it with the LA Galaxy in 2005.
Not only did Moor play every minute, but played in all four spots along a Rapids backline that tied or set new defensive team records. The 32 goals conceded tied the 2004 team for least in team history; only twice previously had a Rapids team surrendered fewer than 11 goals at home; and the 2010 squad set a new record for fewest road goals allowed.
For his versatility, durability, and leadership qualities, Moor was named the 2010 Rapids Defender of the Year.
“To be recognized as defender of the year in a year like this is an unbelievable honor,” Moor told ColoradoRapids.com. “What makes me the most proud is the guys that I play back there with. The year that we had this year, defensively, I don’t think that I deserve it any more than any of the other guys.”
Moor began the year as a center back, but injuries and coaching decisions saw him start five games at left back. And throughout the season, he was often pushed out to right or left back to close out games.
“He’s such a versatile individual, that in itself has lent the opportunity to play the amount of minutes that he did,” said head coach Gary Smith. “He plays as well on the left as he does on the right, and I do believe he’s better in the middle. But never the less, that versatility gives our backline something that not many other teams are offered.”
“To be able to prepare each week in any of those positions and feel comfortable in them, is something that I experienced this year,” said Moor. “(Versatility) is something that I think is important to have as a defender, and it is what gets me on the field at times.
“I know that Gary (Smith) recognizes that, and that’s a big deal to me. To know the coaches and the players have confidence in me playing any spot in the back is a big confidence boost for me.”
Moor shared the backline with fellow defenders Marvell Wynne, Kosuke Kimura, Danny Earls, Julien Baudet, Scott Palguta, and Anthony Wallace and goalkeepers Matt Pickens and Ian Joyce. His ability to adapt and lead those around him were instrumental in the club’s defensive successes in 2010.
“I think he’s formed and does form terrific partnerships with whomever he plays with,” said Smith. “And then we come to his own personal qualities: he’s brave, his position is excellent, and his technical ability – wherever he plays – his choices, he’s a good athlete, and then on top of all of that, he stays fit.”
The only Rapids player to start all 30 regular season games and all four playoff games – including two that went to overtime – Moor was on the field for 3120 minutes in 2010, or perhaps better put, 52 total hours.
“We have an individual here that’s achieved an outstanding level,” Smith said of Moor. “The last person that I’ve heard of that had such a wonderful achievement was Frank Lampard, when he was in his early days at Chelsea and played an incredible amount of consecutive Premier League games. You’ve got to be a certain individual and have a certain body type to allow yourself to get close to that.”
“When you play as a defender that physical contact that you have there, especially in the middle, invariably leads to the odd injury,” Smith added. “And Drew’s not a guy that shirks a challenge. He’s an extremely courageous defender – it is quite remarkable.”
The 26-year-old acknowledges that staying fit and healthy were two of the keys to playing so many minutes. But he also believes another factor should not be overlooked.
“You also have to factor in that I’m playing with some great defenders,” added Moor, who finished his sixth professional season. “Our team defensively, we’re not the biggest, we’re not the strongest. We are one of the fastest, with Marvell and Kosuke. But it’s more about the bond that we all created back there. It may not be something others can see, but we’re all on the same page.”
While talking about the qualities of holding midfielder Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz who sit in front of the backline, and the goalkeepers that combined for nine shutouts, Moor made sure that credit was given to all 11 players that help out defensively.
“Our outside middle guys get in great spots defensively, and then Conor (Casey) and Omar (Cummings) are probable the hardest working forwards in this league. They get into passing lanes, put pressure on center backs, and put pressure on the right defenders.
“It’s a credit to them, to the midfielders and defenders for keeping the team organized, and to Gary Smith and the coaching staff for preaching the right things.”
Five positions technically make up the last line of defense, and Moor was the only constant, sharing the duties with eight other players. Why did the individuals work so well as a unit?
“We’re not just individuals back there, we’re all coached the exact same way,” explained Moor. “We’re all asked to do the exact same job, we motivate each other, and we care about each other. But most importantly, we’re all extremely competitive guys who absolutely hate to see the ball go into the back of our net, and absolutely love to win games.”