Drew Moor hopeful of staying with TFC beyond this season

Veteran defender Drew Moor (Nathan Denette/CP)

TORONTO – On a Toronto FC side noted for its depth and that boasts star players Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, it’s sometimes easy to forget, or overlook, Drew Moor.

That’s a shame because in many ways the veteran defender was the glue that bound the Reds together last year as the team enjoyed its most successful regular season in franchise history, and then went on a magical run in the playoffs.

TFC knows what a valuable player they have in Moor, a 33-year-old native of Dallas who is in the final year of his current contract. To that end, negotiations over a new deal have already been taking place, and Moor is hopeful that something will get hammered out and that he’ll remain in Toronto beyond 2017.

“We immediately started talking this last off-season because I knew I had a year left. I knew I wanted to be here beyond that year. It’s just a matter of getting everybody where they need to be. But I’m hopeful that this won’t be my last year here,” Moor told Sportsnet.

According to the MLS players’ union website, Moor will earn a base salary of US$ 246,750 in 2017. If Moor doesn’t sign a new deal with Toronto, he would become a free agent at the end of the year and be free to negotiate with any MLS club ahead of the 2018 regular season.

He’s not talking like a player who is eager to explore his options, though.

“I still want to be here. This is such an amazing organization that has given me so much. Obviously, they have as difficult a time as [any MLS club] in terms of getting their salary cap space in the right spot… The conversation has been started and I’m very positive that it’ll go in the direction that I want it to, which would be me remaining in Toronto,” Moor said.

How important would it be for the Reds to retain Moor? Not to overstate it, but the veteran defender was one the team’s most important players in 2016.

TFC coughed up a league-high 58 goals two seasons ago. After the dust settled following the Reds’ embarrassing first-round playoff loss to the Montreal Impact, newly-installed club president Bill Manning stated the top off-season priority was to address the defence, and he set a public target of fewer than 45 goals against in 2016. Manning went out and signed Moor, a free agent, as well as making other moves to solidify the back end.

The results? Toronto conceded just 39 goals last year, and the team overall was far more defensively sound. Moor had a lot to do with TFC’s incredible defensive turnaround — he started 32 of 34 league matches (playing every minute of those 32 games), and he logged a team-high 2,880 minutes of playing time (227 minutes more than anybody else on the roster), serving as the quarterback in their back line.

Moor has played in 12 regular-season games this year, 11 as a starter, and again Toronto ranks as one of the best defensive outfits in MLS with just 19 goals against. A minor heart problem ruled him out of action from mid-April to mid-May, otherwise he likely would have appeared in all 19 of the Reds’ matches to date.

Now in his 13th season, Moor has played in 348 regular-season matches with Toronto, FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids since being a first-round selection in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft. With games against New York City FC and Colorado next week, Moor could become one of a select few field players to make 350 regular-season appearances in MLS.

“I knew it was coming up. I think it’s cool. I don’t think a lot of guys have done it. But I feel like I can play in 350 more right now. … It’s a career that I’m proud of so far, but a career that I still want more out of,” Moor stated.

He later added: “The majority of my years are behind me at this point, so I want to continue to contribute as much as I possibly can. It’s just too much fun not to want to play as much as possible.

I chatted at length with Drew Moor today about a number of subjects, including playing in 350 MLS games. Look for a feature story next week at Sportsnet.ca.

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