Luke Moore was part of the cohort of experienced international players on free transfers who were brought in by Chivas USA in 2014. Like the majority of them, he didn't stick, as the English forward was traded to the Colorado Rapids and then to Toronto FC straightaway, in May. Chivas USA got Marvin Chavez in that deal, who scored a brace in his team debut, and it looked like a brilliant move.
But on second look, that argument looks questionable. Moore ended up having a very successful season with TFC, under two coaches, while Chavez didn't score again for the Goats after that sparkling debut.
It's probably worth discussing why Moore didn't work out at Chivas first, however. Joining in preseason, Moore needed time to work up to match fitness, and Wilmer Cabrera seemed willing to give it to him.
The problem, however, was that he almost never seemed like he was really up to leading the line for CUSA, or even really scoring. He had a reputation in England as an introvert, and the only time I saw him really interacting with reporters while he was with Chivas USA, he seemed quite shy. I don't think being shy has anything to do with being a good soccer player, but when making a major move, to a new continent and a new league, showing considerable discomfort might hurt one's acclimation to a new environment.
And for Chivas' fans, Moore had a seemingly nonchalant attitude while playing that more or less screamed out, "I don't really like it here!" Whether he was trying to fit in but not doing well, or was truly not satisfied with his situation in California, he seldom seemed to move above a casual jog around the field when he did play, and had just one really outstanding chance on goal, that was unfortunately saved.
Here were Moore's statistics with Chivas USA in 2014:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||6||2||187||0||0||5||3||0||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
So the weird thing was when Moore moved to Toronto, everything changed. Though TFC ultimately fired their coach midseason and failed in their eternal quest to make the playoffs, Moore became a fixture in their lineup, playing in every single league game for the Canadian side after moving over in May. And he contributed, notching six goals and four assists.
Clearly, it seemed the change of scenery made a major difference, and perhaps playing alongside a compatriot in Jermain Defoe (when he was healthy) helped him get used to the latest team and MLS as a whole. He certainly got more minutes than I'm guessing TFC brass anticipated, with Defoe hurt so much, but he played his role as a second striker well, starting and coming off the bench, and he didn't look at all like the same player who started the season with Chivas USA.
I wrote an article midseason wondering if trading away Moore was a mistake. Besides Erick Torres, it wasn't like there were any prolific scoring options on the team, after all. I still wonder if there was a way that Chivas could have made Moore work, but that's a moot point now. And frankly, the feedback I got from readers was overwhelming - to them, Moore would never have come good with the Goats, it was obvious from how he played.
Still, although situations like these happen, with players not working out on one team but playing great on another, it seems a shame that Chivas couldn't unlock Moore's potential in MLS, and ended up dumping a player who would have been the second-leading scorer on the team had his six goals been with the Goats.
It seems likely he'll continue on with Toronto next year. There's a chance he could be left unprotected for the Expansion Draft and get picked by Orlando City or New York City FC, and be on the move again, but considering he produced above expectations, he'll likely get minutes again with TFC in 2015.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!