Spain’s La Liga, like Italy’s Serie A, remains a city with frustratingly high walls and studded gates mostly closed to Americans. There are ingrained reasons for this, of course, but the one that drives most closely to the heart of it is that the league’s teams have not made a conscious decision to value American prospects.
Americans, in kind, decided to heed those opinions borne out over time and flocked to other leagues. Mostly, where Europe is concerned, in Germany and England.
This makes Shaq Moore, a Powder Springs, Ga. native who’s now been in Spain for bang-on three years, a curiosity of potent strength. After being tossed around Spain for two years, first with Huracan and then with Oviedo, Moore landed with Levante late last year. And now, the fullback with USMNT potential (yes), is participating in Levante’s senior team preseason and is doing things like this.
— Levante UD (@LevanteUD) July 30, 2017
Moore spent last season with Levante’s reserves, and whether he stays there for 2017-18 or moves into the first team in La Liga, time will tell. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that, after a year spent acclimatizing and successfully fighting for his job, he’s tossed some brief La Liga minutes and instructed to stay afloat.
To that effect, Moore recently spoke with Marca’s Arch Bell, and I want you to see a specific passage.
“I like playing here in Levante a lot. I already know the city well. I get along with my teammates, so I’m fortunate. It’s a good situation for me.”
It’s a good situation for me. It’s been a long time coming, and Moore no doubt feels more solace in those words than most any other American prospect abroad.
To understand why all this is such a monumental deal, beyond the obvious, it’s beneficial to trek backward in time. Specifically to Moore’s 2015, which gradually turned from a sprawling, picture-frame landscape to a frenetic Jackson Pollock in doomed colors.
The talented U.S. international right back parlayed his success at the 2015 U20 World Cup (the U.S. reached the quarters and were bumped out on penalties against eventual champion Serbia) into a contract with Huracan Valencia in the Spanish third division. Ideal? Perhaps not. But creaking the door open in the first place is often the most difficult thing. And if it led to bigger things, who would question?
It all quickly turned sour. Huracan did not play its players with anything approaching regularity, leaving Moore ostensibly on the outs and desperately seeking calmer waters. And now it would appear he’s (finally) found them.
Moore officially joined second division club Levante last year. He linked up with Real Oviedo’s B team earlier this year as a quick escape from Huracan, but the Levante news was no doubt a mite bigger deal. Moore has a chance at first team minutes in La Liga in a country with precious few American players populating its professional rosters. He would in fact be just the fourth American to ever play a La Liga match, should it come to that. That’s not a trifling detail.
It is no small thing to watch an American prospect succeed in any top tier program in Europe. But to see one come so close to a breakthrough after suffering such dizzying career calamities so far from home, one after the other, it is perhaps a more monumental thing indeed.
In any case, Moore is still an intriguing prospect who’s more or less been lost to the quiet, subterranean winds of Europe’s lower leagues. With the excitement surrounding the American youth migration to Germany and daily life on these shores, Moore’s been easy to overlook. That could soon change.