Toronto FC has landed one of the top free agents of this Major League Soccer off-season.
A team source told Sportsnet that TFC have agreed to terms with veteran central defender Drew Moor, and that both parties are just waiting for the league to tie up the final details before making an official announcement
“Everything is agreed,” the source told Sportsnet.
Moor was in Toronto most of this week and toured the club’s training facility at Downsview before returning home to Denver. He was accompanied in Toronto by his agent and wife, an indication of just how serious contract talks were between the club and player.
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The addition of Moor, 31, is a big boost for Toronto, who conceded 58 goals during the 2015 regular season, tied for the worst defensive record in the league.
In the aftermath of an embarrassing first-round playoff loss to the Montreal Impact, TFC president Bill Manning, general manager Tim Bezbatchenko and coach Greg Vanney all said that addressing the team’s defensive issues was the top priority this off-season.
TFC is in desperate need of a veteran who can anchor and quarterback the defence, as well as provide leadership along the back line. Moor fits that description—he is an experienced MLS defender, having played in 304 regular season games with both FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids
A first-round pick (sixth overall) of Dallas in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft, Moor made his debut for the Texas club later that year before being traded to Colorado midway through the 2009 campaign.
Moor helped the Rapids win MLS Cup in 2010—Colorado beat Dallas 2-1 in the final at BMO Field—and the following year he set a new league record for the most consecutive 90 minute matches by an outfield player at 68.
The Rapids finished dead last in the Western Conference and tied for second-last overall in 2015 with a 9-15-10 record. But they boasted a pretty respectable defence that conceded just 43 goals thanks in part to Moor.
How much of an investment would the Reds have to make to bring Moor to Toronto? Pretty significant. Moor made $270,000 in 2015 (according to the MLS Players Union) and per the MLS collective bargaining agreement his salary can go up as high as 15 percent (to $310,500) for 2016—that’s a pretty significant contract in a league with a salary cap of $3.66 million next year.
The bigger question is who will partner Moor in the centre of defence. Both Damien Perquis ($372,500) and Ahmed Kantari ($345,000) were on big contracts in 2015. That’s a lot of salary cap space to burn on a backup. MLS teams are allowed to buy out one player per season in order to free up cap room. Would Toronto buy out one of Perquis or Kantari, or try to trade them away, now that Moor is on his way?
The new CBA, which came into effect this year, guaranteed unrestricted free agency for the first time in league history. There is a catch, though, as unrestricted free agency is only available to those players who were out of contract or didn't have options picked up at the end of the 2015 season, and are at least 28 years old and have played a minimum of eight years in MLS.
Moor is among the more high-profile names in the initial crop of MLS free agents, a list that also includes midfielders Justin Mapp of the Montreal Impact and the Chicago Fire’s Mike Magee, who was voted league MVP in 2013.