Toronto FC defender Moor itching to get back onto field


Veteran defender Drew Moor (Nathan Denette/CP)

TORONTO – Drew Moor is itching to get back onto the field.

Moor has sat out Toronto FC‘s last five games due to an irregular heartbeat that was detected during a training session last month. The veteran defender subsequently consulted a cardiologist and then travelled to Boston where he underwent a 3 1/2-hour procedure to correct a minor heart defect.

He worked out on his own during practice on Monday, and is expected to be cleared to return to full training sessions by the end of the week. The hope is that he’ll be available for selection for Saturday’s home game against Minnesota United FC.

But Moor isn’t taking it for granted that he’ll go straight back into the starting 11 following his absences. The Reds have hardly missed a beat without Moor, winning four of five games with two shutouts to climb into first place in the overall MLS standings.

“I might have to win a starting spot back. It’s such a deep team. We brought some players in that we expected and knew would step up. Chris Mavinga has been great. Jason Hernandez was great on Saturday,” Moor said.

“We’re pushing each other throughout the week, and I may have to come back and push to get a spot back as well. Four wins in a row – defensively we’ve been so good and so organized, and that’s credit to the guys that have been in there.”

Moor’s modesty aside, and notwithstanding the solid play of both Hernandez and Mavinga in Saturday’s 1-0 win in Seattle, it’s hard to imagine coach Greg Vanney not inserting the veteran straight back in the starting lineup as soon as he’s ready to go.

Moor, a 33-year-old native of Dallas, played every minute of the team’s first five games this season, quarterbacking a three-man defence that kept three clean sheets and conceded just four goals.

Last season, his first in Toronto after joining the club as a free agent, Moor played in 32 of 34 regular season matches (all as a starter) and was a major reason the Reds posted the second-best defensive record in MLS, with just 39 goals against. The year before, without Moor, Toronto gave up a league-high 58 goals.

An irregular heartbeat sounds like a big deal, but Moor has downplayed the severity of the situation, going to great lengths to explain his life was never in danger. Moor said he had felt symptoms for about a month before his irregular heartbeat was discovered during practice.

“It was nothing life-threatening or anything. It was just for somebody that leads an active lifestyle like myself and somebody who plans on leading an active lifestyle in the years to come, it was suggested I take some time and have my heart looked at a bit,” Moor said.

He later added: “It was all routine, which doesn’t mean it’s not scary at times because it was. But it was fixed — to the exact way that we wanted, the doctors wanted to fix it. I feel good now.”

Known for his warm smile and genial nature, Moor is one of the most likeable and well-respected players in MLS. It was hardly a surprise, then, that he was flooded with well wishes during his time off from fans and players across the league. Even former Montreal Impact forward Didier Drogba, who went up against Moor when the Ivorian played in MLS, took time to send the TFC defender his support via Twitter.

“The support’s been unbelievable, from fans, other players,” Moor said. “Drogba and I, obviously, we battled a bit the past couple of seasons and he’s a good professional and he’s a good guy … To have somebody like that reach out to me was pretty special.”

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