MLS Cup Top 50: #21 Javier Morales (2009)
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Top 50 MLS Cup Moments: #21 Moved to Tears

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Javier Morales registered the fastest first assist in MLS history when he registered a helper just 40 seconds into his MLS debut in 2007 against Kansas City. The Argentine arrived that summer after playing a season in the Spanish second division.
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#21. Moved to Tears (2009)

The ending to the 2009 MLS Cup final was exactly how Javier Morales had pictured it: He and his Real Salt Lake teammates pulling off the upset against the LA Galaxy to lift the MLS Cup.

What he hadn’t counted on was having to abandon the field just 22 minutes into the match and leaving his teammates to do drop the mighty Galaxy without him.

In one of the most memorable and heartbreaking images in MLS Cup history, cameras captured Morales walking off the pitch with tears streaming down his face, his injured knee preventing him from playing any further after a David Beckham tackle.

They were tears of pain, except it wasn't emanating from his knee.

“Honestly, I felt embarrassed [to be crying], but it was just a feeling I had right then of knowing I was missing the final,” Morales said. “It’s every player’s dream [to play in the title match] … and to get fouled in the 15th minute, it really hurt.”

The play happened near the midfield. Morales took a ball from teammate Kyle Beckerman and tried to shield it away from Beckham, not thinking the Galaxy superstar would come in as hard as he did.

“I was wrong,” said Morales. "He came in hard with his entire body on my left leg. Unfortunately for me, we were playing on artificial grass [of CenturyLink Field], so my cleats got caught on the field, and that resulted in a torn meniscus.

“I remember saying some things to Beckham, but I don’t think it he had ill intentions. It was just a hard foul, an unfortunate play.”

Morales stayed on the pitch for a few more minutes, hoping that the injury would magically disappear.

“I kept running. I was incredulous,” Morales continued. “I prayed to God to rid me of the pain, to let me keep playing at least a while longer.”

But the miracle didn’t happen, and he had to be helped off the field.

“He was our man, our playmaker,” said RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. “He was the one who led us to this final. To see him go off was heartbreaking. … I felt the emotion for him. He wanted to be in that game so bad.”

Added RSL head coach Jason Kreis, “I felt really, really poorly for Javier. He had been a big player for us that entire season and the year before, and he deserved the opportunity to lead his team to a championship.”

Teammates tried to console Morales and Kreis moved to pat his player on the back, knowing there wasn’t much he could say to console the Argentine. For 20 minutes after coming off, Morales couldn’t even bear to follow the match.

But it was RSL’s biggest game in their brief history, and with his teammates fighting hard, Morales snapped out of his funk to support his club.

Kreis brought Clint Mathis off the bench to fill in for the Argentine and, according to the coach, the MLS veteran played one of his finest games ever that night.

RSL fought toe-to-toe with the Galaxy, took the match into overtime, and finally won it in the seventh round of a penalty-kick shootout.

“When I was leaving the field, I covered my face with my shirt and Beckerman comes up to me and tells me to remain calm, that they would win the championship,” recalled Morales. “And that’s what happened. Truth is, they made me very happy.”

In the end, Morales’ tears became tears of joy.

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