For forty years, Johnny Moore has lived and breathed Earthquakes soccer. From being the first player ever signed by the club in 1974 to taking the helm as the club’s general manager for two successful seasons – capped off by the MLS Cup championship in 2003 – Moore embodies what the Earthquakes are all about: Unity, Devotion and Heritage.
We caught up with the Hall of Famer to get the inside scoop on his days with the organization, including his favorite memories, his notorious pranks and what he looks forward to the most in the future of the Earthquakes:
Earthquakes: What is your most memorable Earthquakes moment?
Moore: I have three. The game against Pele and the Cosmos was a big thing for the city, the franchise and the fans. That was probably the biggest single thing – the first game at Spartan. We beat them 3-2. That was a magical night. No. 2 was when we won the indoor championship at the Cow Palace. That was the first championship the club had won – that was very important. No. 3 Coming back as a GM and winning the MLS Cup with the club in 2003.
Earthquakes: Most memorable moment off of the pitch?
Moore: The biggest single thing that still hits me was that even 30 years later, when we won the Cup in LA in 2003, old teammates from my ’74 days were calling me and congratulating me on our win. Everybody still cared a great deal. That’s the thing that weaves the club together.
Earthquakes: Sources (Paul Child) tell us that you were the resident prankster on the squad – what was your best prank?
Moore: [Laughs] It was a constant joke. I think the thing with Paul was he would come in to the locker room and put his bag down all of the time. I would steal his shoes, for example. He would have to get ready, and you know, he’d call his wife frantic. [Laughs] It was things like that that were really fun.
Earthquakes: But wasn’t Gabbo Gavric quite the strict coach?
Moore: Oh yeah, Gabbo was Sergeant Major. But I have to say - nobody loved a laugh better than Gabbo to tell you the truth. Once he understood things like that, he knew it was all a part of the team bonding.
Earthquakes: Do any of the current Earthquakes remind you of yourself?
Moore: Well, it’s definitely flattery on my part, but Chris Wondolowski. Wondo is an Earthquake. He’s a typical 1974 Earthquake type of guy by the way he’s always in the community - which is a big part of the Earthquakes identity. When you watch him and his intensity and how hard he’s fighting… I love that part of him. [Laughs] He’s a much better player than I was though.
Earthquakes: You’ve been a part of this club in many different capacities - what do you think is the most important part of culture of the Earthquakes?
Moore: I think it’s the feeling between the players and the fans, and it’s the feeling between the players and the community. They are two different things. The fans are the most important because they are the reason the club is still here after 40 years. Understanding the fans and becoming one of them after you’ve quit is very, very important. We [Earthquakes alumni] all want to be a part of the community too, and we want to be a part of the club forever. I think that’s special - I don’t know if other clubs have that.
Earthquakes: In 2003, what was the first thing you did when we won MLS Cup?
Moore: I had the team take the trophy over to our fans. I went over during halftime of that game and saw just how much it meant to them. One of the first people I saw when I went over there was a young man whose father was a season ticket holder in 1974, so it had gone through generations. That was really important to me.
Earthquakes: So how do you like seeing the guys in red now?
Moore: [Laughs] I love it. Don’t get me wrong – I love the black and blue - we won two championships with that. But red was the original color, and to see it come back is fabulous. It’s almost like a reward to the guys who built the franchise. Saluting them by having an alternate red uniform is very much appreciated.
Earthquakes: What are you most looking forward to in the next forty years of the organization?
Moore: Having a home, having a stadium. And for the first time in franchise history, having something that is ours. It’s going to be huge. And to be perfectly honest, I look forward to another championship and seeing another star on that jersey.