”It’s going to be exciting for Vancouver next year with him leading them.”
That’s Houston Dynamo midfielder Adam Moffat’s take on new Vancouver Whitecaps manager Martin Rennie. And the 25 year old Scotsman should know, as his countryman Rennie is the reason that Moffat is now plying his trade in the States and in his fifth season in Major League Soccer.
”Martin brought me over. I had a contact who knew him and he asked me to come over and play for his team in Cleveland.”
At AFTN, it’s not everyday we run into someone in MLS that we used to watch playing against our other loves, East Fife. That’s where we first watched Moffat, as he played for Elgin City against the Fifers three times in the 2006/07 season of the Scottish Third Division. We even watched him score against us in the October 7th game at Borough Briggs. The audacity!
Did he ever think he’d end up playing in America when he was travelling around some of the toilets of Scottish football like Coatbridge?
”No. It’s funny how it’s all worked out. Going from there is an unusual journey, but I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. I came over here, played in USL for a little bit, then getting into MLS and now I’ve been here for a few years.”
Moffat stood out for the perennial Highland strugglers and was a player some Fife fans even hoped we’d sign to bolster our promotion push that season.
As it turned out, Moffat ended up leaving Scotland altogether for pastures new in Ohio, where he played for the Cleveland City Stars in the 2007 USL Second Division season.
It was a standout year for the young Scot, being named in the League’s Best XI All Star team and getting attention from MLS teams in the process.
It wasn’t long before Moffat made the state switch south to Columbus to join the Crew, where he spent just over three seasons, notching up 44 appearances and 5 goals. The Crew won an Eastern Conference Championship, two Supporters Shields and a MLS Cup in his time there, although a serious knee injury hampered Moffat’s contribution.
Adam was nearly one of our Cascadia Cup rivals this season, as Portland picked him up third in the expansion draft. After making just four sub appearances for the Timbers, they let him go to join Houston in July, receiving two players in return. Moffat is now a regular starter with the Dynamo, playing 6 games and scoring one goal so far and he came close on Saturday to adding to his tally, crashing a first half effort off the bar.
Although now an established MLS player, Moffat remembers his time in Cleveland fondly and in particular the management of Martin Rennie.
”Martin’s a really good coach. His record shows that. I know it’s at a lower level, but he’s done really well each year and each level that he’s been at.
It’s a challenge for him. It’s going to be a little bit different but he knows what he’s talking about and he knows what he’s capable of doing.”
So what can Vancouver fans expect from a Rennie coached Whitecaps side next season?
”We had a good system [in Cleveland]. We were pretty attack minded, but at the same time we were solid at the back. That’s where we were a little bit more there. Really organised. I think that was probably the biggest thing.
Our organisation helped get us results and he’s kept that with his new team in Carolina obviously. He’s got them really organised and it makes a difference. So if he gets the guys here [in Vancouver] organised next year, it’s going to be good for you.”
And is Adam relishing lining up against his old boss next season?
”For sure. I keep in touch with him quite a lot, so it would be good and hopefully score I’ll against him!”
For now though, Adam’s mind is firmly focussed on the 2011 MLS playoffs.
This season, Houston are battling it out for a playoff spot, currently sitting in third place in the Eastern conference and eighth place in the playoff picture.
One of the things which has hampered their aspirations this year has been their away form. Or lack of it, as they remain winless on the road alongside Vancouver and Toronto.
With the pressure and chances they had in Saturday’s match, they must have surely felt that first elusive away victory was on the cards:
”Yeah, it’s disappointing. Not only not to win the game, but also to end up losing it at the end. We played well and had our chances but we never took them. Full credit to Vancouver, they finished well. “
Houston sit three points clear in the playoff race in eighth spot. Clinching that berth is now where the Club are deeply focussing their efforts for their remaining seven regular season games:
”Yeah, definitely. We had a chance to put some points on the board tonight. That’s our aim and obviously we didn’t, but we’ll keep going. We’ve been playing well lately. Getting to the playoffs, that’s our goal, and we know we’re capable of doing it, so we’ll keep working hard at that.”
And good luck to the Dynamo. With Portland Timbers harbouring playoff hopes of their own, Houston could be the team that stops them achieving that in their inaugural MLS season. As bitter and twisted Cascadian rivals, AFTN obviously hope they fail to achieve that goal!
From a personal point of view, it’s good to see a Scottish player like Adam Moffat come over to the US and do well in Major League Soccer. There were many that came over in the 70’s and 80’s for NASL, but far less so for MLS.
Does Moffat have any plans to go back to Scotland or somewhere else in Europe, or would he like to play out his career over here?
”I don’t know. I enjoy it over here. My wife’s from over here and I married her in California. So who knows. But if there’s an opportunity, I definitely would think about it, but I enjoy being over here. I’ve been in a few different states now. It’s fun. It’s a good lifestyle.”
Good luck to him. As a player who has played and impressed Martin Rennie before, who knows what his MLS future may hold in store and where it may take him.
Midfield isn’t the number one priority for the Whitecaps just now, but never say never.