Through eight games this season, Toronto FC have rediscovered their defensive identity, and Drew Moor is the reason behind it all.
The biggest story during Toronto FC’s eight-game road trip was how much better defensively they were as compared to last year, and it’s true. Through eight games, they have conceded seven goals, which is the lowest total in the MLS. In turn, they have sacrificed goalscoring having only scored nine goals through eight contests, but three points is three points.
Certainly, Sebastian Giovinco’s contributions on offense cannot be ignored. He has picked up right where he left off and, when all is said and done, he could pick up a second consecutive MVP Award. It would be well deserved, considering how he carries this offense. But as was mentioned before, Toronto FC’s play has been characterized by their stifling defense. And nobody on the team embodies that better than Drew Moor.
Every new signing has played a vital role to the team so far, but nobody has been more consistent at the back than Drew Moor. Last season, Toronto had two clean sheets on the road all year; this season, they have three through eight games. Moor has been the reason why they’ve held all of those clean sheets – just look at his performance in each of them:
- Against the New York Red Bulls, he had five interceptions, eight clearances, and a successful passing rate of 69% (18 of 26). Good enough to earn him a spot in the Team of the Week.
- Against DC United, he had eight clearances, four interceptions, and a successful passing rate of 73% (19 of 26). He held the lead from first minute to last in a man of the match performance.
- Against the Montreal Impact, he completed 27 of 35 passes (good for a 77% success rate), had four clearances, and seven interceptions. Good enough to earn him another Team of the Week spot.
Those are extremely consistent performances against some of the league’s best offenses. He also helped the team hold a clean sheet record of 274 minutes that spanned from the second half of the New England Revolution game to the first half of the Portland Timbers game. He only missed one match, against Sporting Kansas City, due to illness, but made it back in time to face the Colorado Rapids.
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You could even argue that in all three of those matches, the opposition was favoured. Hardly anyone expected Toronto to beat the defending Supporters Shield winners in their home, yet they walked out with a clean sheet. DC United had just pasted the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-0 and their attackers were in fine form, but he halted them in their tracks. The Montreal Impact were welcoming Didier Drogba back into their starting lineup while Ignacio Piatti had been in the form of his life – doesn’t matter, they were shut down.
Moor doesn’t just make a contribution on the defensive side of the ball, but on the offensive side as well. Moor’s passing is incisive, and it’s his long balls that help create chances and get Toronto’s attack going. He makes the two units into a cohesive one, and is excellent in transitioning the play towards the other side of the pitch.
Moor’s impact is not only felt on the pitch, but off it as well. He is a leader in the true sense of the word, and arguably the most experienced offseason signing the club has made. He’s been in the league for over 10 years and won an MLS Cup with Colorado. Granted, he’s not the only player to hold that distinction – Will Johnson is a two-time Cup winner – but his role in Portland’s championship was relegated to a bit part. Moor was a vital part of Colorado’s championship team, and he’s had a positive role with whichever team he’s played on.
Moor is always striving to make the players around him better. His work ethic is tireless, he carries such a positive influence, and sets a good example. No matter who his centre-back partner is, whether it’s been Damien Perquis or Josh Williams, his play has set a benchmark for them to follow. That’s why, although it’s nice to see some of the younger players getting a shot in the lineup, experience is what matters most.
Really, this isn’t meant to undermine Giovinco’s contributions so far this season. He’s been excellent in his own right, and has done so with little help throughout most of his games. Toronto may only have nine goals on the year, but he’s been involved in all of them thus far, and that’s outstanding.
However, Moor’s play has changed the culture of Toronto FC. They’ve gone from one of the bottom-feeding clubs in terms of team defense to the top team in the MLS. His contributions may not show up on any boxscore, or place himself among the league leaders, but he makes a difference in the locker room and every time he steps out onto the field.
When TFC fans are asked who is the best defensive player in club history, names like Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry, and Steven Caldwell come to mind. The way that Drew Moor carries himself, it won’t be long before he joins those ranks.
Stats provided come courtesy of WhoScored.