25 Matches In: Shaq Moore

Here at Broadway Sports Media, we recently introduced a new series on our feed. 

Each time a Nashville SC player reaches a milestone in appearances for the club (10, 25, 50, 100, 150, 200, and so on…), we will take a snapshot look at their history for the Boys in Gold. 

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On Saturday, Shaq Moore hit a milestone by making his 25th appearance for the club. 

Overview

Shaq Moore joined Nashville SC in July 2022 via a transfer from CD Tenerife. The reported $2 million dollar transfer fee made Moore the third most expensive player in club history.  

NSC’s interest in the USMNT right dated back to the 2021 season. Rumblings of Nashville’s interest in Moore permeated the winter transfer market. However, Tenerife held onto Moore. Los Blanquiazules were entrenched in a playoff battle and had no replacement lined up for Moore. After falling just short in the promotion playoff, Tenerife relented and accepted Nashville’s offer for Moore.

At Moore’s introductory press conference, Mike Jacobs explained “We had always been looking to upgrade and improve that right back spot. Very early on, the idea for us was that if we’re going to invest [at the level Alistair Johnston was asking for in a new contract], maybe we need to raise our bar as far as what we’re looking for in that role. Very early on that target became Shaq.”

To no surprise, Moore immediately stepped into the starting role and has started every league match since. 

This past winter, Moore fulfilled the dream of every younger soccer player by playing at the World Cup. He became the second Nashville SC player to do so, just after Walker Zimmerman who started the United States’ opening match against Wales.

What the number say

Nashville SC’s right-back, Shaq Moore, has been a consistent performer for the team, contributing to their defensive and offensive efforts. However, there is still another level for him to reach in his attacking contributions before he lives up to his expensive price tag.

Through his first 25 appearances, Moore has contributed five assists. Although not an important part of any fullback’s game, he has yet to score for Nashville. 

Moore’s combined goals added (g+) falls slightly below average (0.15 g+ per 96 minutes). Among fullbacks with at least 1,000 accumulated minutes across 2022 and 2023, it ranks Moore 35th overall, one spot ahead of Daniel Lovitz. If you are not familiar with American Soccer Analysis’ “Goals Added” metric, it “measures a player’s total on-ball contribution in attack and defense. It does this by calculating how much each touch changes their team’s chances of scoring and conceding across two possessions.”

His expected assists (xA) rate of 0.07 per 96 minutes ranks him 42nd among qualifying fullbacks. Furthermore, his 0.7 key passes per 96 minutes ranks him 49th among qualifying fullbacks. 

Like our previous feature with Daniel Lovitz, I expect this rate to jump if a goal-scoring striker is obtained in the summer transfer window.

Across the rest of the pitch, Moore has a pass completion score nearly perfectly in line with expectation (-0.01 passes completed above expected per 100 passes). Although with Nashville, he has not proved to be the most prolific passer, he effectively progresses the ball within the structure of Nashville’s attack. 

Defensively, Moore is a standout player, particularly in ground duels and tackles. The statistics suggest that Moore may be the best defensive fullback in the league.

Per Opta as accumulated by FBref, he averages three tackles per match, which places him in the 91st percentile among fullbacks. On top of that, Moore has won 20 of 23 battles with opposing dribblers this season, putting him in the 97th percentile. 

Continuing with his defensive excellence, Moore ranks fifth among qualifying fullbacks in goals added (g+) from “Interrupting” activities. This category includes actions such as tackles, interceptions, blocks, clearances, recoveries, and contested headers. 

These statistics demonstrate his ability to make crucial defensive plays, shutting down the opposition. Moore’s stellar defensive work helps to explain why Nashville is currently on track to break the MLS single-season record for the fewest goals conceded per match. 

The eye test

If you want a comprehensive look at what the eye test tells you about Shaq Moore, you would be best served to start (and perhaps end) with Valair Shabilla’s fabulous Film Friday featuring Moore. 

Moore owns Nashville’s right flank. He is not merely a box-to-box player, he is an end line to end line player. He is a modern fullback in every sense of the phrase.

Moore owns Nashville’s right flank. He is not merely a box-to-box player, he is an end line to end line player. He is a modern fullback in every sense of the phrase.

At times, that work rate can go unnoticed by supporters. However, I guarantee it earns him the respect of the coaching staff.

If the best ability is availability, Moore should count himself as one of the best. Since getting his feet wet with Nashville, Moore has logged 17 straight full 90s in MLS play. As Valair highlighted, Moore seemingly never grows tired on the pitch constantly making recovery runs late into matches. That cardiovascular stamina means Gary Smith does not have to worry about utilizing a precious substitution on the right back.

While we have yet to see the best of Shaq Moore on the offensive end, we know what he has in his bag. 

I’ve watched enough of him over the years to know that he has the technical ability to put himself into the conversation as one of the league’s best crossers. For a variety of reasons, we just have not seen Moore shine in that area yet with Nashville. 

Looking forward

Shaq Moore, 26, will be a club cornerstone for years and years to come. 

He has already experimented with the European dream. Moore bounced around Spain for six years to begin his professional career. When the Georgia native made the decision to sign with Nashville, it seemingly signaled that he had made his way back to the States for good.  

With his long-term future tied to Tennessee, Nashville can focus on augmenting the rest of the roster. 

The one caveat to this pronouncement is Moore’s offensive contributions. 

At a yearly guaranteed compensation of $779,400, Moore stands as the sixth highest-paid fullback in the league. While his defensive play is absolutely deserving of such a salary, his attacking output has left a bit to be desired.

Moore has always been a fantastic crosser of the ball. His highlight reel from Tenerife is stocked full of dimes placed right to runners in the box. However, we have only seen glimpses of that ability in Nashville. 

Although I’m not too worried about it just yet. A smart striker signing this summer should unlock the best of Shaq Moore. 

Author: Chris IveyChris is a senior writer covering Nashville SC. His writings focus on the team at large and often navigate the complexity of roster building around the myriad of MLS rules. Outside of Broadway Sports Media, Chris resides in Knoxville and is a licensed attorney. Beyond NSC, he is always willing to discuss Tennessee football and basketball, Coventry City, and USMNT. Follow Chris on Twitter

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