Skip to main content

Toronto FC defender Drew Moor, right, says the team’s first home playoff game is ‘huge’ for the club, the city and the fans.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Goal keeper Clint Irwin's MLS debut came without notice March 16, 2013, when he was summoned off the Colorado bench four minutes into a game against Real Salt Lake to replace an injured Matt Pickens.

Rapids teammate Drew Moor approached him with some advice that stuck.

"He was just like 'Hey, enjoy it. Just have fun,'" Irwin recalled this week. "That's the way that he approaches things."

A 12-year veteran of Major League Soccer with five caps for the U.S. national team, the 32-year-old Moor has not lost his passion for the game. Now an integral member of Toronto FC, he will be a major player Wednesday when TFC hosts the Philadelphia Union in its first-ever home playoff game.

General manager Tim Bezbatchenko calls it "our biggest game in club history."

"It's huge," Moor said. "I think it's huge for the club, it's huge for the city and the fans."

Toronto's only other foray into the postseason in its 10-year existence was a 3-0 road loss last season in Montreal.

Moor has already won the MLS Cup in Toronto, with Colorado in 2010 when the championship game was held on a neutral site. He joined Toronto as a free agent last December, with Irwin coming later via trade.

Moor's advice to teammates going into Wednesday's playoff showdown hasn't much changed from that he gave Irwin three years ago.

"I would just say go be yourself. To enjoy it, take it in … [Certainly] treat it like it's a big game but we've prepared [for it] all season," he said.

With the Dallas native anchoring a defence bolstered by the signing of Irwin and fullback Steven Beitashour, the emergence of centre back Eriq Zavaleta and another fine season from returning fullback Justin Morrow, Toronto conceded 39 goals in 34 games this season. That's down from 58 in 2015.

Only Colorado, with 32, gave up fewer goals in 2016.

Moor should merit consideration for MLS defender of the year.

"The biggest compliment I can pay to him is that he makes other people around him better," Irwin said. "That's not something that is common in this league."

Listed at six feet and 165 pounds, Moor is compact for a centre back. But he reads the game well, rarely gets caught out and is surprisingly good in the air – with 25 goals to his credit.

Rarely seen without a smile off the field, he is a fierce competitor on it. Opponents and referees alike hear his take on things during games.

And with 336 MLS regular-season and 12 playoff games under his belt – not to mention back-to-back NCAA national championships in 2003 and 2004 at Indiana – he is battle-tested.

While Toronto made defence a priority from strikers on back in 2016, coach Greg Vanney says the low-maintenance centre back is a key part of Toronto's revamped back line.

"You know you can count on him every single day," said Vanney, a former elite defender himself. "Whether it's training or games, you can count Drew in. If it's three games in a week, you can count Drew in. He's very efficient, he's smart, he's professional. He's always there and he's always there for the team in whatever capacity."

Bezbatchenko says Moor's qualities on the field are mirrored by his values off it.

"I don't think you could find a better person," he said.

"He sets a tone every day, about coming in, doing the work – doing the small things right. And he helps drive that culture forward, that winning mentality and that fighting mentality," he added.

"Every single day, he comes in and does the right things," Irwin added.

Moor is a man of faith. His Twitter feed regularly quotes the scriptures but he also regularly celebrates family, the Indiana Hoosiers and his beloved Texas. This season has been special for Moor in many ways. He and wife Shelby welcomed son Joey into the world in May – "7lbs 10ozs of perfection!" he tweeted at the time – and Moor melted more than a few hearts in June when he brought his baby son, clad in a tiny No. 3 "Moor" sleeper, onto the field for the anthems.

Seventy-six minutes later, dad scored to give Toronto a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy.

"He's awesome right now," Moor said of young Joey. "I can't wait to get home and see him every day, when I'm driving home from training. He's got a nice personality."

Like father, like son.