SANDY — Fifteen days after the day in which Javier Morales was injured by Chivas USA player and fellow Argentine Mark Mondaini, we visited the house of Real Salt Lake's most valuable player to have him relive those painful moments.
He received us seated on the sofa in his living room, his right foot up on cushions, with his wife Noelia and 4-year-old son, Santiago, at his side.
"Now I have to take care of two children," says Noelia, smiling.
"That is the worst I have to cope with. Being unable to do anything for myself," said Javier Morales.
"Fortunately, I begin rehabilitation next week."
DN: Let's start from the very beginning. What do you remember from those moments? When did you realize the gravity of the injury?
MORALES: When I heard the noise, it was the first thing that frightened me. It sounded like wood breaking. The noise was what made me turn to look at my foot. When I saw the foot in a bad position is when I lost my mind, I was shocked.
The truth is that when I've seen similar images on television, it is already striking. But ... to see your foot like that was very hard. Mostly because I thought I had broken the tibia, and I expected the worse. The anguish was terrible at the time.
I was so shocked that though many people spoke to me I do not remember anything; only when my wife told me in the ambulance that everything was going well, I came back. And I remember saying — I'm not worried about the pain right now but all I have still to go through.
DN: Have you suffered injuries before?
MORALES: No, I never had. Only a ligament in my shoulder, and a meniscus operation, but the next day I was walking.
DN: Have you seen the recording of the game again? What do you think now about Mondaini's tackle?
MORALES: I saw it because I felt the need to. At least once. And the truth is I still think the same. I see no malice. Marcos (Mondaini) immediately apologized. He called me that night, and calls me every two or three days.
I did not feel any bad intentions during the game. But what they do say is that there was negligence and unconsciousness on his part not to measure the damage that could occur. He did not have any chance to get to the ball.
I lost him from my vision and I could not see the tackle from behind, because I was looking at the goal, and could not prepare my body for it. If you have sufficient experience in football you know when you can get a defender from behind and prevent something like this. The problem was that he is not defense; I just felt the bang and the noise I mentioned.
I told him I accepted the apology. Marcos told me, "I do not know what I was doing there, I should have not been so low in the field." The truth is that I understand it, and I accept the apology. Anyway these are things of football and life, unfortunately it was my turn. We must continue forward, the worst is over.
DN: What do you think about the penalty of only four more games to Mondaini?
MORALES: If there was malicious intent, maybe I would have been more attentive to the sanction they put on him. But it was not, so I did not care. The 10 days I have spent, and four or five months I have to go, nobody's going to change that, no matter how many games they punish him with. I am not a resentful person, and I accepted the apology, he has the penalty and now we move on.
DN: Coincidentally you are compatriots. What impact did all this have in Argentina?
MORALES: It was surprising and made me laugh. Just a few days earlier I scored an important goal in the first leg of the CONCACAF final and no one heard about it. Now that I broke my ankle, people who I had not spoken to for a long time, were calling me. The news was everywhere, with commentary on the radio, TV. ... But, well, you know that these things sell more.
But yes, everyone was very overwhelmed and I talked to friends and colleagues who I hadn't seen for some time. I was very overwhelmed by all this, and very grateful. Aside from the bad time I'm going through, the amazing response comforts me and helps me to keep on going.
DN: Is that, perhaps, the most positive part of everything that has happened, the amount of support received?
MORALES: Sure, I'm still very surprised by what happened this past Saturday, with the large banners and signs of support. I saw it with my wife on television and I have no words to thank the many people who have shown me their support. I am very surprised and touched by it.
I did not expect it, because it is not something one seeks, and I have no way to thank them. The only thing I could do is thank the public through Internet, social networks Facebook and Twitter. It is one of the most beautiful things that has happened to me in football.
DN: Now, what are your expectations?
MORALES: "The recovery time is four to five months. I even asked if I could cut it down, but the doctor told me that is the minimum. I've been doing some counting, and hope to be back for two or three games before the end of the regular season, and try to play playoffs.
The truth is that I had high expectations for this year, and within a week we lost the CONCACAF final. At the time I was really thinking about whether to continue playing or not. Something like this makes you come back to reality. With what happened to me I have forgotten about the final, but I know that the team was more affected by the defeat of the final than my injury.
DN: Finally, what possibilities do you think the team has without you?2 comments on this story
MORALES: It's a bit like what happened to me in Argentina. A few months ago I was nominated to be the MVP of the league. The difference between Morales and Ferreira pointed that the RSL did not depend on Morales because it was a team, a whole, while Dallas is more dependent on Ferreira.
I was very happy with those comments, and I also believe it's true. But, I don't agree with them now stating otherwise, that RSL is no longer a good team, but still one of the favorites. I think the team is more impacted by losing the CONCACAF final than for my injury, and I think that in three or four matches they will be recovered."