Teammates reflect on Moore's career
a never-give-up attitude, chasing things down and battling and putting pressure on other teams. He was a big-time commodity for us on the national team."
Said Wynalda, "Joe-Max is a fighter and a winner. He loves competition and he hates to lose, which is why he was successful. It is also why in the future he will be successful at anything he cares about, and chooses to pursue.
"I personally loved playing upfront with Joe-Max more than any other player I've ever played with, anywhere. He made me better. He made everybody around him better. The players who had the opportunity to play with him might not realize how great he was until they are finished playing themselves."
The aggressiveness Moore brought to the field unfortunately had to be replicated in the training room, as he suffered a number of debilitating injuries over the years. He only managed three early-season appearances for New England in 2004 before being sidelined with medial collateral ligament (MCL) damage in his right knee. When a similar injury forced a reconstructive operation for the 33-year-old last Friday, Moore decided it was time to end his playing career.
"It became pretty obvious recently," said Moore on Thursday. "When I went back to a mini-camp with the Revolution and I re-injured the same problem I've been fighting for the last couple of years, there was really no other option but to reconstruct the ligament. When I sat back and looked at it, it just made sense considering my age. I just thought it was probably the smartest thing to do."
"You never want to end your career on an injury," said Moore's former teammate and current Colorado Rapids community ambassador Marcello Balboa. "You want to go out on your own terms, and unfortunately, he hasn't been able to with this injury."
Moore's professionalism both on and off the field helped to make him a well-respected player around MLS and with the national team. The Tulsa, Okla., native rarely uttered a negative comment, instead leading both by example and positive reinforcement.
"I think anybody that's every played with Joe-Max very quickly realizes that his physical energy level and his mental energy level are in a different stratosphere than the rest of us," said San Jose Earthquakes general manager Alexi Lalas, who was on the U.S. Olympic team with Moore in Barcelona in 1992, as well as two World Cup teams (1994 and 1998). "He was always thinking and planning and scheming on the field and rarely sat still off the field."
"He's a funny guy," added Harkes. "He's very serious and people don't see (the funny) side of him, but I did. I can remember him in training, coming in as a younger player and he was very determined to do well and you could see that. But as soon as you could crack a joke with him and make him smile you could see that he tends to relax a little bit and he played very well."
A fierce competitive streak runs through Moore. No matter the game or the competition, he was always in search of victory.
"You can say there has never been a greater competitor in the sense that if he was playing in a World Cup or a game of soccer tennis or if he was playing a game of 'Go Fish' with an eight-year-old that Joe-Max wanted to win," said Lalas.
Added Wynalda, "I can't wait for the golf. If we make it to the 8th tee box without a fight, a bet or a beer I will be very suprised."
Former Los Angeles Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid was one of the first to take note of Moore, recruiting him to play at UCLA when he was just a teenager.
"I'll always remember the first time I saw him," said Schmid. "He was just a little kid who wasn't afraid of anyone. He just hates to lose. He'd have to walk off as a winner at the end of the day. I think one year (at UCLA) he had like 18 goals for us. He was a big part of that national title winning team."
But it wasn't only a high work rate and a desire to win that earned Moore his success. He was able to combine those attributes with good speed, a reliable first touch and great finishing abilities. Moore had a nose for the goal and loved to strike the ball. He also excelled in dead-ball situations.
"He'll also be remembered for his specialty in free kicks," said Harkes. "He was quality. He loved it, he was confident and he put many of them away in the back of the net."
Tony Meola, who was a part of three different World Cup teams with Moore (1994, 1998 and 2002), agreed.
"He was one of the best free kick takers and he actually had one of the hardest shots that I think I've ever played against," he said. "I remember Joe-Max Moore as being the first guy on the field and the last guy off the field every single day."
It's precisely that kind of drive that helped make Moore one of the premier attacking threats in American soccer -- both at the international and the club level -- for over 10 years.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer of its clubs.