Shaq Moore: 2023 report card

Shaq Moore was a fixture of Nashville SC’s backline in 2023, and while he was consistent, he never quite lived up to the lofty expectations he brought with him.

2023 Grade: B

2023 by the numbers

Matches played: 43 (T-2nd on Nashville SC)
Minutes played: 3,921 (3rd on Nashville SC)
Goals: 1 (T-9th on Nashville SC)
Assists: 5 (4th on Nashville SC)
Goal contributions per 96 minutes: 0.15 (13th on Nashville SC)

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2023 in review

In his first full season for Nashville SC, the expectation was that Moore would solidify himself as one of the elite fullbacks in MLS. His quality is apparent and he deserves massive credit for his contributions to the best defense in the league as the team’s only recognized right back.

Moore is a lockdown 1v1 defender; it’s not possible to get the better of every single matchup over the course of a long MLS season, but there’s no left winger in the league that I’m nervous to see face Nashville’s number 18. 

That said, there was optimism that he would become a consistent source of high quality chances down Nashville’s right, and while he never failed to provide an outlet down his flank, he didn’t quite have the attacking output to fully live up to that lofty expectation.

Looking forward

Moore is very much one of the core pieces for Nashville to build around. After just turning 27 this month, he’s about to come into what should be the peak years of his career. While he’s already a regular US international with World Cup minutes and one of highest quality right backs in MLS, it’s conceivable and perhaps even worth expecting that he will see his game go up another level over the next couple of seasons in Nashville.

Sam Surridge is a very high quality target forward to aim crosses into – the DP striker’s consistent presence for a full season could help Moore’s assist figures increase substantially. Moore’s attacking tools aren’t limited to crosses though – he’s a good ball-carrier at speed, and has shown that he can perfectly weight a throughball, as evidenced in this assist for Hany Mukhtar in Nashville’s 2-0 win at Orlando City back in April.

Fullback is perhaps the position where modern managers are most able to showcase their attacking ideas for their team. I’d like to see more of a concerted effort to help Moore become a regular attacking threat – too often, his role seemed to be as the “out” ball after a failed attempt to engineer some build up down Nashville’s left. I also think he’d benefit from a regular partner in front of him in right midfield who he could establish some chemistry with.

Given the realities of a Gary Smith team, though, Moore may end up having to find a way to play “above” the tactics, so to speak, and come up with his own ways of consistently arriving in the final third and creating chances. If he fails to do so, he may find himself wondering if Geodis Park was the right place for him to take the next step in his career.

Moment of the season

This first time cross to assist Lukas MacNaughton’s first goal for Nashville is a good example of the inventiveness and execution Nashville fans will be hoping to see more of in 2024.

Previous report cards:

Joe Willis (A-) | Dan Lovitz (A) | Lukas MacNaughton (A) | Jack Maher (A-) | Dax McCarty (B+) | Fafà Picault (A) | Randall Leal (D) | Sam Surridge (C+) | Hany Mukhtar (B-) | Ethan Zubak (D) | Teal Bunbury (C-) | Jacob Shaffelburg (B-)

Author: Josh Youngis a soccer obsessive and cohost of the very unserious Nashville SC fan podcast Paradise Pod. He will try to keep the silliness in podcast form and write more analytically here, but we can’t promise anything. Josh attended Middle Tennessee State University before making his way up to Nashville. He’s a snowboarder, hobbyist musician, decent tennis player, and extremely amateur home bartender. He is atoning for sins in a past life by suffering through Tottenham Hotspur fandom in this one. There’s a good chance that as you’re reading this he’s starting a rewatch of The Sopranos.

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