American in Spain: Shaq Moore bucks the odds to make debut for La Liga's Levante

Spain has been a difficult move for Americans, and players who started out in the lower divisions have often had a particularly difficult time of navigating them.

But 20-year-old Shaq Moore has hung in there and debuted for La Liga's Levante in its 2-0 win at first division rival Girona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey series on Thursday.

U.S. internationals in Spain:
Tab Ramos (Figueres D2, 1990-92; Real Betis D2, 1992-95),
Peter Vermes (Figueres D2, 1991-96)
Manny Lagos (Lleida D2, 1992)
Kasey Keller (Rayo Vallecano, 1999-2001)
Ante Razov (Racing Club de Ferrol D2, 2000-01)
Jozy Altidore (Villarreal, 2008-2011; Xerez D2, 2009)
Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander D2, 2012-13)
Oguchi Onyewu (Malaga, 2012-13)

Moore is a product of the U.S. U-17 residency program. He captained the team that failed to qualify for the 2013 U-17 World Cup and played for the USA at the 2015 U-20 World Cup. Shortly before heading to U-20 World Cup tournament he signed with Spanish Segunda A Division (third level) club Huracan Valencia.

Moore lasted half a season at Huracan Valencia, moving after the club stopped paying its players. He spent the rest of the 2015-16 season at Real Oviedo Vetusta, Real Oviedo's B team, in the Tercera Division (fourth level). His third club was Levante II, another Segunda A team.

"It’s hard to be an American playing in Europe," he told Marca in December 2015 after leaving Huracan Valencia, "and this mess complicated things. It’s not what I expected and it is a shame that happens at a big club like Huracan Valencia. But this exposes me to what you can happen in the football business, and that will help me in the future if I go again.”

Moore played 27 games in the third division last season and joined the first team for the 2017-18 preseason. Since right back Ivan Lopez was injured in September, Pedro Lopez has started at right back for Levante and Moore dressed as his backup in the last three games.

Moore -- or "Shaq" as the Spanish simply call him -- was one of four players who earned their first starts of the season for the Girona match.

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