Leading up to last Saturday's win over league-leading New England, Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis was asked to evaluate midfielder Javier Morales' performance thus far.

Predictably, he was positive saying Morales had been fantastic and was the player who made RSL tick each game. Always the contemplative wordsmith though, Kreis elaborated and said Morales is capable of much more.

Right on cue, the Argentine midfielder delivered a sensational performance in the 2-1 win having an indirect hand in both goals.

"Somebody must've translated the article to him because tonight he was unbelievable," said Kreis.

Morales was active from start to finish floating around the pitch like Chicago's Cuauhtemoc Blanco for 90 minutes, but demonstrating an athleticism and a defensive tenacity Blanco's game lacks.

Not only is Morales one of the two fittest players on Real Salt Lake — slightly behind Tony Beltran — but he leads MLS with seven assists, and he's also among the league leaders in fouls committed, unheard of for an attacking midfielder.

On a resurgent RSL squad with numerous key cogs, Morales has proven to be indispensable and deserves to be among the MLS All-Stars that takes on West Ham in Toronto next month.

Kyle Beckerman might be representing RSL as well, which would allow the duo to take their comedic Kyle and Javy Show on the road. The team-produced video has developed a cult following around the league with Morales and Beckerman interviewing each other in opposite languages. Morales speaks in choppy English, while Beckerman speaks in broken Spanish.

Almost by accident, Morales has developed into the type of player on and off the field RSL was counting on from previous more heralded players — all at a bargain of $240,000 per season.

Big things were expected of Mathis at a whopping salary of $410,000 back in 2005, but the former U.S. Soccer bad boy seemed content to milk his reputation and was largely a bust.

In 2007, RSL brought in Freddy Adu to be the playmaker, a horrendous decision despite the teenager's obvious knack for putting bodies in the stands. Adu was already dreaming of his move to Europe when he arrived in Utah, and his $550,000 salary was a complete waste.

Two failed experiments later, RSL has found the playmaker it covets, and he's clearly one of the league's best. If his team continues its move up the ladder, Morales will be in league MVP discussions at the end of the year.


E-mail: jedward@desnews.com