LEHI, Utah — A demanding schedule won’t be the only thing taking a toll on the reigning MLS champs’ squad this weekend.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales will miss Saturday’s home match against Chicago as a result of a blatant and inexcusable knee to the groin of Osvaldo Alonso in last week’s match against the Seattle Sounders.
“It’s clear in my mind that this was a poor decision on Javier’s part,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said. “It’s something that was unnecessary and away from the ball, and to be suspended for that I think it hurts the group.”
[inline_node:313866]Morales is second in the league in fouls suffered with 64 this season, behind FC Dallas midfielder David Ferreira, who has 65.
“I also understand it from Javier’s point of view, because he is now a player that’s beginning to become frustrated,” Kreis said. “I’ve seen it two games in a row now where is very much keyed upon by the other team. And it’s not so much keyed upon as, ‘We need to mark him’ – it’s, ‘How many times can we foul him?’”
“Now, arguably our most creative player and the guy that people like to come watch, is suspended because he’s had to take matters into his own hands," Kreis said.
The tactic of playing a physical style against Morales is an approach often employed by opposing teams, something that Kreis understands.
“Listen, I’m a coach that wants good soccer, but I’m also a coach that wants to keep his job, and so coaching against my team I’d say let’s foul the crap out of Javier,” he admitted. “The refs aren’t going to do anything about it, and so maybe we’ll get the benefit of Javier losing his cool and we’ll be up a man.”
The suspension came as a result of a retroactive red card for the incident which was not caught at the time that it happened.
“I am and I am not [a fan of the discipline handed out after the match]," Kreis said. "I’m a fan of using video and using technology so that they get decisions right, so I guess in that respect if you want to take a hard line or be consistent you need to say, OK, yeah, they need to review video.”
For now, Real Salt Lake will need to move forward on Saturday without the talented Argentine, a process that Kreis insists has already begun.
“We’ll look at this as we try to always as a glass being half full, and say, 'OK this may be an opportunity, he needed a break anyway.' So with the suspension, it will force us to give him a good week and a half break.”