That’s at least how the US men’s national team defender described things Thursday during his first press conference since joining the Coyotes from LaLiga 2 side Tenerife earlier this week.
“We tried to get a deal done in January,” Moore said. “It wasn’t to be, but [Jacobs] stayed persistent. I think with that persistence he finally got his reward. Now it’s up to me to repay him for all that trust he’s given to me.”
The 25-year-old arrives at Nashville for a reported $2 million transfer fee, and his deal runs through the 2025 MLS season with an option for 2026. In Nashville’s eyes, it also enhances their right-back spot after trading Canadian international Alistair Johnston to CF Montréal during the offseason for $1 million in General Allocation Money, seeking another dynamic and two-way presence.
Jacobs and head coach Gary Smith worked together to identify targets, and they grew steadfast in bringing Moore back stateside after his entire professional career was spent in Spain. Notably, Moore debuted in LaLiga at age 20 for Levante, facing the likes of Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona.
“I would say we probably looked at somewhere between 30 and 40 right backs over the last two years,” Jacobs said. “Very quickly, as we started looking at someone like Shaq … most right backs Gary looked at he compared to Shaq.
“So in different countries, different leagues, I’d ask him for feedback and he’d say, ‘Well this guy’s good but he doesn’t attack like Shaq. I like this guy, but he’s not as good a 1-v-1 defender as Shaq.’”
Now, as Nashville have 13 regular-season games remaining in pursuit of a third-straight Audi MLS Cup Playoffs trip, Smith believes Moore can help push them to another level. Should all the transfer-related paperwork go through, the Englishman also said his new defender should feature in their Saturday evening trip to FC Cincinnati (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+).
“I said on numerous occasions that were doing our utmost to try and wait for an individual or individuals that would help elevate the team, improve the team, and I think we’ve done that resoundingly with [getting] Shaq in the group,” Smith said.
“A lot of our work from Mike’s end with sticking with it and making sure the deal was going to get done. There were certainly times I’m sure he’d tell you that he probably suspected otherwise, but it takes a lot of patience and we finally added somebody that I think will have a terrific effect on the group.”
Moore gives Nashville another USMNT defender alongside center back Walker Zimmerman, a near-lock for the Yanks’ 26-man group heading to the Qatar 2022 World Cup later this year. The path toward a roster spot isn’t as straightforward for Moore considering the program’s depth at right back, but now he’ll have an MLS platform for impressing manager Gregg Berhalter.
Four months out from the World Cup, Smith also believes a highly-motivated Moore should lift the third-year club at an opportune time.
“His presence, what he’s been able to achieve, what he’s fighting for, where he could be at the end of the year and the group he could be in at the World Cup,” Smith said, “I think gives everyone not only a little bit of a shot in the arm but I think it also gives everyone a bit more of a reality check that we’re still fighting very much for some very decent positions in this Western Conference. There’s a big fight on and we just got better.”
Moore is the latest USMNT right back to enter MLS in the last two transfer windows, following in Inter Miami CF defender DeAndre Yedlin’s footsteps after the Seattle Sounders FC homegrown product departed Turkish Super Lig side Galatasaray over the winter.
Moore’s also not entirely new to MLS, having spent time in the FC Dallas academy as a youngster before nearly a decade in Europe. A Georgia native, he’s now eager to carry Nashville forward in their first year at GEODIS Park, the largest soccer-specific stadium in the US and Canada with a capacity of 30,000.
“A few things,” Moore said with a smile when asked what he’s most anticipating. “Being close to home; Atlanta’s right down the street, so that’s something I’m excited about. Also playing in this new stadium in front of these fans, I think that’s something to look forward to. And also just being part of the growing culture in the league. I think it’s growing a lot and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Beyond Moore, might Nashville have more additions up their sleeve before the Secondary Transfer Window ends Aug. 4 and the 2022 Roster Freeze Date gets enacted Sept. 2?
Jacobs didn’t guarantee as much, instead affirming that their group, as led by the All-Star duo of Zimmerman and Hany Mukhtar, doesn’t need “wholesale changes.”
As for key roster openings, Nashville have a U22 Initiative spot to work with. Their DP allotment is tied up by Mukhtar, Zimmerman and striker Ake Loba.
“From our standpoint, I think sometimes what gets lost is it’s not like fantasy football or FIFA where transactions happen within the minute,” Jacobs said. “The reality is a lot of these deals take not only days but weeks, months and in some cases years. We have some other things we’re working on. We’re continuing to be patient from the standpoint that it’s not about just adding players; it’s adding the right players.”