SANDY, Utah – On Saturday night Javier Morales returned to Rio Tinto Stadium to face the team he played for over the past decade. He didn’t see any action during the game, but was glad he was able to experience what he did.
“I saw a lot of friends, around the stadium, in the stadium, on the field, off the field,” Morales said after his new club, FC Dallas, defeated Real Salt Lake3-0. “That was great, but I didn’t have the opportunity to play and I’m sorry for that.”
Morales was the casualty of FCD being ahead and still having concerns about holding onto a 2-0 lead. FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja said he’d planned to get Morales some playing time, but it didn’t turn out that way.
“It was in our plans, not just because I wanted to make it an emotional moment for Javi. I didn’t want to bring him in the game for any other reason than because he’s going to help us and that’s how I respect Javi,” Pareja said.
“He could have come and helped us handle the ball better. It was a different instance in the game where we wanted him in the field, but we chose to go with another player.”
Perhaps if Maxi Urruti’s goal to make it 3-0 had come earlier, Morales could have seen some action in what he reiterated may be his last game in Salt Lake.
“I don’t know what was the plan, but this could be my last game at Rio Tinto, so maybe I could have the opportunity to play,” Morales said. “This is for the team and not for a player, so I have to move on.”
Even with the disappointment of not giving the RSL fans a chance to say goodbye during a game, Morales enjoyed the emotions of the moment.
“That was nice to see everyone,” Morales said. “I have good relationships with all the guys. I’m happy to come here and to play against them. I didn’t play, but I was happy to see them.”
During warmups, Morales and a large contingent of current RSL players exchanged hugs at midfield. That was the most emotional it got for Morales, who was still waving to fans even when warming up in the second half.
“When I went out for my first time for the warmup, that was tough. There were a lot of people there and that was nice, but I knew before that it could be emotional and it was.”
Prior to kickoff, RSL honored Morales with a framed jersey and another frame full of pictures from his time in Salt Lake. He was flanked by former teammates Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Tony Beltran, all of who were absent from the lineup due to injury.
“It’s difficult because you’re thinking about the game and you’re warming up for the game,” Morales said. “For a minute or two that was nice to be with my old friends; I was so happy.”