COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — There may be no captain’s armband more difficult to fill in all of MLS than that of Pablo Mastroeni.
When the Colorado Rapids legend was traded to the LA Galaxy last week, defender Drew Moor assumed the team’s permanent captaincy, leaving the far younger center back the tall task of filling Mastroeni’s unquestioned locker room dominance.
Unlike the boisterous and vocal Mastroeni, however, Moor isn’t necessarily a loud or overly expressive leader (although he will throw the odd temper tantrum on a defensive breakdown). The 29-year-old veteran, who at 6 feet tall and 165 pounds isn’t exactly an imposing figure, instead prefers to lead by example of hard work, and he’s often the first player at practice and the last one to leave.
“I’ll go give you everything I have, but it does take the vocal side [too],” Moor said this week. “You have to let guys know when they need to pick it up, you have to pat guys on the back when they deserve a pat on the back. It’s not an easy role, but it’s something, being in the league for some time now, I feel I can take it naturally, and I want to.”
Under head coach Oscar Pareja, who was hired in January 2012, the Rapids have undergone a major rebuild over the past 12 months, watching legendary veterans Conor Casey, Omar Cummings, Jeff Larentowicz and Kosuke Kimura, amongst others, pack their bags. Moor is one of the few holdovers left from the Gary Smith regime, and Pareja said it was an easy transition to hand the armband over after Mastroeni’s departure.
“I think it’s a very natural move,” Pareja said this week. “The captain reflects and helps to develop the personality of the team. I think it’s a process because Drew is growing as a captain. He’s adapting to the leadership, things he didn’t do before, he needs to do now.”
Moor captained the final 32 games of 2012, but at the time, he was seen as more of a stand-in captain rather than the permanent on-field leader. So when Mastroeni announced his intention to return to the field ahead of this season, the 36-year-old two-time World Cup veteran re-claimed the captain’s armband.
But with Mastroeni and several other key veterans now gone, the job of guiding the baby-faced Rapids, who regularly start seven players 25 or younger, is now a far more important one than it was a year ago.
And now it’s also a permanent gig, and Moor couldn’t be happier about it.
“I felt respected within the organization and feel like a big part of this team is mine,” Moor said. “I’ve certainly felt like one of the captains of this team for a while now.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.