La Liga generally hasn’t been home to many American players. Throughout the years, Spain has never truly caught on as a landing point for Americans looking to play abroad as U.S.-born players have generally gravitated towards England and Germany for a variety of reasons.
In total, just four American internationals have made appearances in La Liga, with the latest being a 20-year-old defender who battled his way up the Spanish system.
Shaq Moore made a pair of debuts recently in what was certainly a big week for the young fullback. On Wednesday, he started and went a full 90 minutes in Levante’s 2-0 win over Girona. On Saturday, he came on as a late substitute as Levante tied Eibar, 2-2, in his La Liga debut.
Moore’s recent run to the Levante first team comes as a result of an injury to right back Ivan Lopez, who will now miss the rest of the season.
With his league appearance, Moore became just the fourth American international to make an appearance in the Spanish top division, joining Oguchi Onyewu, Jozy Altidore and Kasey Keller.
“He’s a very nice guy, he’s very good, he’s a very young boy with a good mentality and he’s been taking part with us since last year,” Levante boss Juan Muniz said following Moore’s performance against Girona. “He’s come out and he’s realized that the pace is not the same, suffered, but is a boy who will give many joys to the club.”
Moore’s journey to Levante certainly wasn’t a simple one. A Georgia resident, Moore was a frequent member of several U.S. youth national teams and trained within FC Dallas’ youth system.The son of former Soca Warriors defender Wendell Moore, the fullback was initially denied by Triniad & Tobago after being told he wasn’t good enough for the youth setup.
The defender then became a mainstay with the U.S. U-17s, becoming the team’s captain throughout his cycle with the group. However, the U.S. fell short in the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 championships and missed out on the U-17 World Cup despite having a team that included defenders Justen Glad and Tommy Redding as well as forward Rubio Rubin.
From there, Moore moved to the U.S. U-20s, joining the group at the 2015 U-20 World Cup. At the tournament, Moore started two matches for the U.S., who fell to eventual champions Serbia, coached by now-Chicago Fire boss Veljko Paunovic.
Before the tournament, Moore went to Spain in search of a contract. After training with Valencia and Levante, the two biggest clubs in the city of Valencia, Moore signed with third-division side Huracan Valencia shortly before the World Cup. He made his debut for the club’s senior team that August before moving to Real Oviedo B that January. His time with Real Oviedo’s second team was short-lived as Moore moved yet again that August to sign with his current club, Levante. The defender made 27 league appearances for the club’s B-team in 2016-17.
Now, Moore has moved up to the Levante first team for one major reason: his ability to defend. The fullback, who has generally played on the right, is a no-nonsense defender that has the physical tools to be solid in the final third. His attack game isn’t as polished, but Moore generally showed to be good defensively throughout his time within the U.S. system.
His initial debut against Girona was strong, especially considering the fact that Levante maintained a clean sheet. However, against Eibar, Moore did over-commit on a sequence that turned out to be the equalizing goal.
Still, due to the injury to López, Moore could jump in and seize a more regular first-team spot. As things stand, the club sits 12th in the La Liga table. heading into Sunday’s match against Girona at home.