ATLANTA - Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur are getting most of the attention on the hometown sports star beat, but they're not the only guys who are making a living playing pro sports a few miles from where they grew up.
Justin Moore, a defender for the Atlanta Silverbacks, brought his skills back to the area in 2007 after a four-year college career at Clemson and one season with FC Dallas of Major League Soccer. While the former Parkview star hasn't played in an All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium or had his mug on the cover of Sports Illustrated, his life is far from semi-charmed.
"Just to be able to come back home and be able to play in front of friends and family ... is really a dream come true," Moore said. "It's a great situation to have the support here from not only friends and family but also from people who followed me through high school and college. ... It's been a great situation."
The decision by Moore to leave FC Dallas and come to Atlanta came down to economics and personnel changes in the organization. After playing with a senior contract in his first season, the club offered Moore a developmental contract. Those pay about $15,000, which isn't desirable in most professions, let alone the big business of athletics.
"For me to be getting married and things like that, I had some other goals in mind," Moore said. "So this was a better situation, for me to come home, have some coaching opportunities and play for the Silverbacks."
In his second season with the club, Moore and the Silverbacks are in the middle of another tight race for the playoffs. They sit two points out of a tie for last place but just four points from being in a tie for third place. The defender has logged over 1,000 minutes this year and netted an assist, a welcomed change after missing a lot of time in last season's playoff push and title game appearance due to injuries.
In addition to his playing duties, Moore coaches U12 and U13 boys teams at Pinckneyville Park in Norcross.
"The fun ages," he said. "I enjoy it. One of my old coaches, Tony Annan, is the director over there. He's helped me so much. Even though I've played professionally, it doesn't mean I'm going to be a good coach. He's kinda showed me some things about running training sessions and how to coach teams. It's been a great learning experience for me."
Before Moore joined the pro ranks of soccer, he was a standout at Clemson University for four years. Clemson has produced many professional stars, including U.S. Men's National Team defender Oguchi Onyewu and a handful of other stars in MLS, the USL and other pro leagues.
His tenure with the Tigers included a couple of deep playoff runs, as well as a semifinal appearance in 2005 that ended with a loss to New Mexico. Clemson also made the Elite Eight in his freshman season, where Stanford sent the Tigers home.
Before joining the Tigers, Moore had a standout career at Parkview. The Panthers tied with rival Brookwood for the Class AAAAA state title in 2001.
"Justin would fool you because he wasn't the flashy player that his brother was," former Parkview coach Karl Bostick said. "But he did everything the way he was supposed to. He was such a student of the game. He watched every game on television. You could just look at him and tell that he was in the game mentally."
Moore started his career with the Silverbacks playing on the right wing. But just like at Parkview, he ended up getting moved to the defense because of his great talent in the back.
"By halfway through the season, I'd drop him back farther and farther," Bostick said. "He led the team from that position. You can't score goals in soccer unless you can defend. He could anticipate and had great vision. He could make a first pass that would create an opening. I had to keep him in the back. He was so sure and safe about everything."
Moore said that as a pro athlete, he knows he won't be able to do that forever. But thanks to his education and work as a coach, he will have options when his playing days are over.
"As long as my body holds up, I'd like to play," he said. "It's not too bad of a schedule. I'm getting into coaching. I could see myself doing a little bit more of that, taking on a couple more teams. I've got my degree in special education, so that's always an option. I'm pretty open."
Since he and his wife Megan plan on having kids in the future, Moore said he doesn't have any plans for making another run at MLS.
"I'm happy here," he said. "If I was still single, I'd have those aspirations to bounce around to different teams, maybe try to fit in somewhere where it's best. But right now, this is the best situation. The Silverbacks are a great organization. They're growing, they're developing, so it's fun to be a part of that transition."
SideBar: THE MOORE FILE
Who: Justin Moore
Team: Atlanta Silverbacks
Position: Right defender
Family: Wife, Megan
· Drafted 15th overall by FC Dallas in 2006 MLS SuperDraft
· Reached NCAA Final Four with Clemson in 2005
· Named to 2005 NCAA All-Tournament team
· Named to All-ACC second team in 2004
· Won Class AAAAA state title with Parkview in 2001
· Brother of former MLS player and Parkview grad Jason Moore