Toronto FC made its first major move of the off-season by signing free agent defender, Drew Moor. The-31-year old defender becomes the first free agent signing in TFC history and just the second overall in league history behind Justin Mapp making the move from Montreal to Sporting Kansas City.
The signing isn't sexy on the surface. There was no fanfare at the airport and no one was making a "bloody big deal" about it when news of the signing broke mid-Wednesday morning. Defenders don't get the kind of treatment reserved for star strikers from faraway lands.That said, no one who witnessed the reds concede easy goal after easy goal in 2015 will underestimate the importance of this move. The front office promised fans that the defensive woes would be addressed this off-season and the Moor signing starts the team down the path to rectifying those deficiencies.
Moor brings with him the MLS experience that this club has so badly needed at the back. He's been around the league for 11 seasons, spending the bulk of his time with Colorado. He also possesses a winning pedigree having hoisted the MLS Cup with the Rapids at BMO Field in 2010. Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko made it clear that Moor's experience was a major selling point for TFC.
"Drew brings valuable MLS regular season and playoff experience to our backline," he said in a media call today. "He is a proven winner and leader with success in our league."
Leadership is a massive drawing point for Toronto FC. Moor was the Rapids captain for the last three seasons. He likely won't take the captain's band from Michael Bradley, but will provide much needed leadership to a backline that appeared scattered, disorganized and lost for large stretches of the 2015 season.
For the most part, Moor has been a durable player. He withstood the grind that is MLS for nearly ten seasons without a serious fitness concern. However, Moor was sidelined after just 23 games in 2014 when he suffered a torn ACL. He returned last season, appearing in 22 games for the Rapids and was named to the MLS All-Star team.
Although Moor has been used as a rightback, he says that central defense is where he feels most comfortable. He told reporters during a noon hour conference call Wednesday afternoon that he's willing to slot in anywhere that TFC needs him to play, joking that he'll play "up front or in goal if needed."
Moor admitted during the conference call that he had a few very good offers on the table, but felt that Toronto presented the best fit for himself and his growing family. He would not elaborate on how many offers he had or who the other suitors were. He likened the brave new world of MLS free agency to the recruiting process that NCAA schools use to woo student athletes to their schools.
The decision to opt out of his contract, become a free agent and ultimately make the move to Toronto wasn't made in haste. Colorado has been his home since 2009 and deciding to leave wasn't easy. He stressed that he and his wife deliberated for several weeks as to what their next move would be. He had what he called a very good deal on the table to stay with the Rapids, as well as weighing out offers from other clubs that were in the same ballpark as what TFC presented.
The Texas native feels that Toronto FC as an organization showed him that it is willing to go above and beyond in order to win. He was impressed with the facilities and the way that the team went out of its way to make him and his family comfortable during the courtship process.
Toronto FC is attractive to Moor as what he called, "a destination of choice club" in MLS because of the calibre of players that the team has already in the fold. The fact that he won't have to worry about covering Sebastian Giovinco anymore isn't lost on him, but he stresses that, "you can have the best players in the world, if you aren't all on the same page, you won't be successful." Integrating himself into the team and helping to build a stronger chemistry will be part of the challenge now facing Moor as he prepares for 2016.
A footnote to this signing, but a rather important one as Toronto FC continues to woo players this off-season and in the future is the support of the fans in Toronto. Moor made mention during his afternoon Q and A with the media that he's from Dallas and followed the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series against the Blue Jays. The incredible support and passion from Jays fans left a serious impression on him. He's seen that level of passion from Toronto fans as a visitor at BMO Field as well and it is part of what made Toronto the destination of choice for Moor.