SANDY — Javier Morales was very, very anxious.
An injury picked up in the preseason had rendered him a spectator the first month of the season, but on Saturday night the Real Salt Lake midfielder was finally healthy enough to suit up as a substitute.
“I couldn’t wait. I was watching the first half, and I wanted to play again,” said Morales.
The coaching staff finally called his number in the 62nd minute, and Morales was overwhelmed by the raucous reception from the Rio Tinto Stadium crowd.
“First I’m happy for the win, the three points. Second, for playing again. And third, for the fans. They were unbelievable with me. I didn’t expect that. I feel proud,” said Morales.
His teammates were just as thrilled for his 2013 debut.
“I thought he was sharp. He got out there, he held possessions for us, created some chances. It’s fantastic to have him back. I thought as a whole the midfield was very good for us tonight,” said Nat Borchers.
RSL coach Jason Kreis loved having his playmaker back on the field too.
“We know how valuable Javier is, we know how gifted he is with the ball. If we want to be an elite team in this country and this league, then we’re going to need a player like Javier Morales to make differences, so it’s good to have him back on track and moving forward,” said Kreis.
SENDING A MESSAGE: With a few minutes remaining in Saturday’s match, an animated Kreis stormed up the Rio Tinto Stadium tunnel toward the locker room after a no call from referee Mark Geiger.
Asked afterward why he left the field, Kreis said, “I had too much coffee at halftime. I needed to go to the bathroom.”
More realistically though, he was sending a message to Geiger.
After a loss to San Jose early last season in which the ref showed Real Salt Lake two red cards, Kreis mentioned in the postgame interview that he considered walking off the field to “show my disrespect that way.”
A year later, he let his actions do the disrespecting.
SHORT STAY: Saturday night was a great and frustrating evening all rolled into one for Robbie Findley.
He scored a wonderful goal in the eighth minute on a cheeky left-footed finish inside the 6-yard box, but five minutes later he limped off the field with a groin injury he suffered while scoring the goal.
The severity of the strain remains to be seen, but back in 2010 Findley dealt with a groin strain early in the season and never missed any time.
The fact Findley tried to play through the pain for a few minutes is an encouraging sign that the injury isn’t that bad.
“We’ll see overnight how it feels and how it goes from there,” said Findley.