For a player who sprints around a soccer field and leaps high off of it for a living, the last place Colorado Rapids central defender Drew Moor expected to end his 2011 season was face-down on the soft turf of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, rolling around in excruciating pain.
But in the first leg of the Rapids’ Eastern Conference Semifinal against Sporting Kansas City last October, Moor separated his shoulder in an edgy tussle with SKC star forward Teal Bunbury.
The injury forced Moor out of the second leg of the series, and abruptly ended what he calls the best year of his career.
“It was definitely a tough way to end the season – not just for me personally, but for the whole team,” Moor told MLSsoccer.com from the Rapids’ preseason training camp in California. “But all of us are excited to come back with a new direction and give ourselves another run at it.”
But the past is the past, and the future is all that occupies the mind of the 28-year-old veteran. He will be counted on to form the backbone of a new-look Rapids team that features a brand new coach, as well as a brand new technical look that will require the team’s veterans to set the tone for a squad with championship aspirations.
Head coach Oscar Pareja will look no further than his old FC Dallas teammate to help his new team buy into the Rapids’ transition to an attack-minded 4-3-3 look. Moor set a career-high in goals, shots, games played and minutes played last year, while establishing himself as one of the league’s true iron men.
Moor set an MLS record for field players with 69 consecutive complete games played last August, and is confident that he and his team will only continue to grow together under their new head coach.
“The one thing that stands out about Oscar is his passion for winning soccer games,” Moor said. “I certainly saw it in my first year in Dallas, which was his last. He’s such a passionate guy; he’s so competitive and he brings a winning mentality that you want to win everything that you’re a part of.”
Moor enters 2012 looking to shake off the disappointingly anticlimactic end to his and his team’s 2011 campaign. In the Rapids’ 2-0 playoff home loss on Oct. 30 to Sporting KC, Moor and Bunbury both sprinted after a loose ball, and Moor awkwardly tumbled to the turf after both players charged into each other, resulting in Moor’s season-ending separated shoulder.
But despite Bunbury appearing to cock himself up perhaps in celebration of the injury – along with Bunbury’s subsequent yellow card – Moor feels no ill will towards Kansas City’s star man.
“He was coming a little harder than I thought; it was my shoulder that hit the ground.” said Moor, who recently tweaked his hamstring in preseason training, but expects to be back in action by the Rapids’ trip to Hawaii later this month. “He’s a good player and a good guy; I will certainly not think anything of him because of it.”
After an offseason that began with six weeks of rest and relaxation for the ninth-year pro – including a Thanksgiving trip to Mexico with his family sandwiched in between plenty of Dallas Cowboys and University of Texas football – it’s back to business for Moor, with a new coach and a new look, but the same talented and veteran team.
“One of the things about having the same group of guys is the adaptability that we have,” Moor said. “I think everyone’s played against a 4-3-3, and though [Pareja] is certainly overhauling it, having that veteran leadership, having those guys who’ve been in the league for a while, we have that presence of mind to understand it.”