Moose answers the call
Whitecaps' newest recruit joins former MLS teammates in Vancouver
BY IAN WALKER
In American football, the nickname Moose is often associated with big or strong players. Take Marmaduke (Big Moose) Mason, friend to Archie Andrews of comic book fame. Or Daryl (Moose) Johnston, former fullback for the Dallas Cowboys.
It's not so cut-and-dried when talking about the other version of the game. Take the Vancouver Whitecaps' newest player, whose 5-7, 145-pound frame is more mouse than moose.
That's Justin Moose, to you.
"My size is something I've had to overcome my whole career," said Moose, 24, a former seventh overall pick of D.C. United of Major League Soccer. "I find myself playing on the outside a lot where there's more room and I rely on quickness and my one-on-one ability to make up for my stature."
Moose signed with the Whitecaps earlier this week after earlier being waived by D.C. United. He joins goalkeeper Jay Nolly and forward Nick Addlery as former Washington players who have signed with Vancouver this season.
"It was an opportunity that came up and we just happened to take the same opportunity at the same place," said Nolly, who was Moose's roommate on the road last season. "It's always better going into a situation when you know someone, so this worked out well for all of us."
Moose and Addlery got to know each other better during the winter when the teammates were two of four United players asked to spend two weeks last December touring Pacific Island military bases and putting on soccer clinics for children and adults.
"All three of us were in the same place last year, with playing time and all that," said Addlery, 26, who made 11 starts last season with United, scoring one goal and recording two assists.
"Coming here was a fresh start and an opportunity to get more playing time. Last year we were mainly in supporting roles. This year we want to be more impact players and have a say with what happens with your team."
High expectations accompanied Moose to Washington after United selected him with its top pick of the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. Adding his speed, skill and work rate to a club with a proven track record of developing young U.S. talent looked like a win-win situation.
But nagging hamstring problems and the steep learning curve of the professional game conspired to make Moose's rookie season a forgettable one, as he logged just a single minute with the senior team. Last season, he played seven of their first 13 games before hernia surgery cost the Statesville, N.C., native his place.
He signed with Vancouver after discussions with United head coach Tom Soehn. "We just decided what I needed was to play games and get my confidence up," said Moose, who graduated from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., where he earned a psychology degree and graduated as the NCAA school's all-time assists leader. "I didn't want to sit on the bench."
"I'd love to play as much as I can," said Moose, who had been training with the Whitecaps for a week before obtaining his release from the MLS. "Hopefully the coaches can find me useful and I can contribute."
Let the "Moose" calls begin.