COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — In the first few days of June, Drew Moor’s incredible run of consecutive 90-minute league games looked in real danger of coming to an end.
The Colorado Rapids defender suffered a tight hamstring in training leading up to the home game against Philadelphia on June 4, and it was an injury that would have sidelined most players.
But Moor — who last weekend broke the long-standing Peter Vermes record of 67 straight regular-season games for a field player — told the coaching staff he was ready, and played the game as part of his rehabilitation.
“I joked with him he might be the eighth wonder of the world to get through the injury and play a full 90 minutes,” said John Ireland, Rapids strength and conditioning coach. “We nursed him the first half of the week and he had to show me he could go by the end of the week.
“Most guys would have said I’m not ready but he said he would be,” Ireland added. “And he played 90. Just phenomenal.”
Ireland has an interesting perspective on Moor’s achievement, because he was also a fitness coach with the Rapids when Vermes started the long streak of consecutive games he eventually finished off at Kansas City. There are definite similarities between the two players, Ireland said.
“He was a great defender, organized things very well and took great care of himself too,” Ireland said of Vermes. “He was very strong. With Drew, it’s his game preparation, just taking care of himself. He does an extremely good job of that. He trains hard all the time, whether it’s in the gym or on the field.
“He’s not a big guy, he’s not a muscular guy, but he’s strong,” he added. “A lot of good core strength. And his mental strength is huge.”
Moor is humble, modest, quietly spoken and universally popular. He’s also, as his refusal to succumb to a nagging injury reveals, a professional dedicated to his craft. He simply lives and breathes his sport.
“Even though we only train an hour-and-a-half a day, I feel like we are always working,” Moor told MLSsoccer.com. “I’m kind of a boring guy. I’m very much a student of the game. I’m thinking soccer all the time. The window of being a professional soccer player is usually not very long and, as long as I’m in it, I want to be playing as much as I possibly can.”
Moor, who has five caps with the US national team, hates being injured and will do everything he can to avoid the training table. He also says he has never asked head coach Gary Smith and the coaching staff for any kind of break.
And they, in turn, have never asked if he needed one.
“I have a little bit of a warrior mentality where, if you have two legs and are breathing air, then you should be playing,” Moor said. “I joke with the players in the training room and ask them if that’s where they really want to be right now.”
Moor admits he has had had some luck avoiding serious injuries, but he also evokes the old adage of the more he practices, the luckier he gets. He’s also thankful for those who surround him, and the supportive environment he’s encountered since he was traded from FC Dallas in August of 2009.
“You do the little things right, you try to be a good professional, you try to take care of yourself,” he said. “I’ve got a fantastic supporting cast. Not just the back four but this entire club. I feel Gary [Smith] and [assistant coach Steve Guppy] have a lot of confidence in me.”
With just a day’s rest after his record-breaking appearance Saturday, Moor was setting his alarm clock for an early Monday morning start. Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz joked with Moor on Saturday night that the club was honoring him with an all expenses paid trip to Honduras for breaking the record.
In fact, the model professional was getting ready for a 5:45 am Monday appointment at Denver International Airport where the Rapids began a marathon journey down to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to play Real España on Tuesday night in the CONCACAF Champions League.
In a rare reserve role, Moor actually came off the bench to play the last 20 minutes in the 1-1 tie.
“[The streak] is on my mind only because everyone is talking about it,” Moor said. “I don’t play games to continue the streak. I go out there to play 90 minutes and do what I can to help this team win.”