By AVI CREDITOR
TORONTO – Marvell Wynne returns to the stadium he called home until he was shipped out in the offseason. Drew Moor goes up against his hometown team, a club he'd spent his entire career with before being dealt away last summer. For the Colorado Rapids' starting centerback tandem, winning the MLS Cup on Sunday night would be made even sweeter by that history.
Wynne, who was converted from fullback to centerback upon his arrival in Colorado, was dealt from Toronto FC to the Rapids in exchange for Nick Labrocca and a draft pick right before the 2010 season commenced.
Moor, a Dallas native, was taken by FC Dallas with the sixth pick in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft. He spent four-and-a-half seasons in Dallas before being shipped to Colorado along with a draft pick and allocation money in August, 2009, in exchange for Ugo Ihemelu.
Considering the circumstances, the pair is drawing more of the spotlight aside from the typical "how do you contain David Ferreira?" queries.
"It's kind of an added entity to the game that I wouldn't have expected in my first MLS Cup," Moor said. "Not just dealing with the pressure of the game, but the pressure of some of my former teammates and a club that I supported since I was 12 years old."
Moor has flourished in Colorado after the initial shock of being traded dissipated. His leadership and organizational ability in front of keeper Matt Pickens has helped provide a safety net behind the stable defensive-midfield partnership of Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni.
"I took the trade hard at first," said Moor, who played for one season under current FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman. "It was tough to leave home and to leave family and a club I had supported since I was younger, but I can't complain about the situation I'm in right now. Colorado opened their doors for me, and I'm extremely excited to be here.
"This is very much business. We have a healthy respect for each other, but come Sunday night, that kind of goes by the wayside a little bit."
For Wynne, he harbors no hard feelings for the Toronto franchise after being dealt and looks forward to vying for a league championship at BMO Field, where he roamed the flank as an aggresive right back.
"It feels good coming back to Toronto," Wynne said. "I love this city. I know the fans are going to be crazy and wild when we get out to the stadium. I like being back here and seeing the familiar sights."
Part of what helped make the transition to Colorado and the transition to a new position go smoothly is the fact that he developed an instantaneous connection with his new defensive teammates.
"It was rather quick because of Drew Moor and Kosuke Kimura talking to me and guiding me through the process and taking me step-by-step through everything," Wynne said. "They were a big help. Now that I'm back there, I'm a big fan of the centerback position."
Instead of looking to attack down the sideline, Wynne has tapped into his speed and athleticsm to complement the skill sets of Moor, Kimura and Anthony Wallace along the back line.
Despite never playing professionally as a centerback before his season, he has evolved into a stable option at a position that demands consistent discipline for 90 minutes.
"I always felt and looked at the individual and thought he might be able to do a good job in the middle," said Colorado coach Gary Smith, who took the gamble by throwing Wynne into the fire at centerback in the season's opening game.
"He gets off the floor extremely well. In 1-v-1 situations, he's very good. He proved me right. There was always a chance that it wasn't going to quite work out that way, but I think he's made a very easy and simple transition into that centerback position."
Going up against strikers such as Conor Casey and Omar Cummings in training each day also forced the learning curve to accelerate. The duo has a way of testing every centerback partnership it goes against, as most teams in the league can attest.
"In those guys you have, like Marvell and I, two different types of players," Moor said. "You have big, strong Conor, who is deceptively good with his feet and can score from anywhere, and then you have the explosive, skillful Omar, who can score from anywhere as well. Defending those two guys every week will get defenders on the same page very quickly."
Now that Wynne and Moor have had a whole season on the same page together while thwarting opposing attacks, one opponent remains in Toronto, where coming up with a lock-down performance would provide a degree of redemption to two players while bringing an MLS Cup title to Colorado for the first time in the franchise's history.
"I think that makes it extra special," Moor said. "I want this cup back in Denver, and plus, I've got to go to Dallas in the offseason, and I want to have that cup with me."