Real Salt Lake, Javier Morales

Real Salt Lake: Javier Morales throws wrench into squad selection

It was their first loss of the season, which is never a pleasant feeling. But Real Salt Lake still managed to pass the biggest test of their season, and they did it against the hottest, and arguably the best, team in MLS. Matched up against the bruising LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake were without the services of Joao Plata, who accounted for 70% of their goals.

Blowout incoming right?

Well, yes. But that is not the full story by any means. For starters, Salt Lake created chances and scored without Plata. In fact, the aged midfield maestro Javier Morales put on a clinic in his short time (he only played 45 minutes).

Morales, who is one of the most successful players in Salt Lake history, has faded a bit this year. He’s been with the club since 2007, he’s been an all-star twice, he’s guided Salt Lake to their first ever MLS Cup playoff, yet age has caught up to him. At 36, he has only played 214 minutes thus far into the year, as illnesses and just being a fading star have intervened. His limelight is being stolen by the younger Joao Plata.

Even with Plata out, Javier Morales was not given the start. But that’s okay, because he was brought on at half time and what he did in one half of play was rather spectacular.

Morales created eight chances. Eight. He was second on the team in touches for the entire game. Morales had a damn good game and he started to tuck the ‘Real Salt Lake can’t perform without Plata’ rumors to bed.

It may seem like small condolences, but getting blown out by the LA Galaxy really isn’t the end of the world. In fact, Salt Lake should be taking far more positives from this then negatives.

FoxSports hit the nail on the head when they pointed out that this is what LA does. Sometimes they just come together like a Burning Man festival and everything just feels good. Then they fade into the distance and flounder about. It happens. Granted, this could always be the year they turn it around, but I digress.

The point is, Real Salt Lake – without Plata – put two goals on LA, controlled possession (granted, the Galaxy did let up) and saw one of their long-time stars re-emerge and assert himself as a premium option. I don’t think it’s crazy to think that Salt Lake would trade those things for a loss.

I’ll admit, I bought into the Plata-or-bust idea. I wrote about it not long ago. But, if this match can be counted on as hard evidence, then I was wrong. Salt Lake created plenty of chances without Plata and, while they did get torn asunder, every defense has some gaffs from time to time.

We also have to look at Yura Movsisyan, however. If he can start churning out goals, Real Salt Lake will be on a higher level then ever before. Imagine what an offense powered by Plata, a rejuvenated Morales, and a goal threat like Movsisyan could do? They could definitely compete in the Western Conference, that’s for sure.