SEATTLE — Javier Morales' season definitely ebbed and flowed with Real Salt Lake's this season. At times he was very good, and at other times he was virtually absent.
In the playoffs he'd really started to settle into the dominant force and was a big reason RSL upset Columbus and Chicago in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
He quickly became a spectator in Sunday's MLS Cup, which was a devastating blow.
In the 15th minute Morales collided with David Beckham at midfield and immediately began grabbing his knee. He laid on the field for nearly two minutes receiving treatment and after stepping off the field for another minute tried to return.
It became clear very quickly once he stepped back on to the field that this wasn't an injury the magic spray could fix.
Morales suffered a LCL sprain in his knee and was replaced by Clint Mathis in the 22nd minute.
"Javier's been a very, very important player for us. In all of our good moments at Real Salt Lake he's been a central figure. He's our play maker for a reason," said RSL coach Jason Kreis.
In the regular season Morales scored one goal and added five assists, but in just three games in the playoffs he'd notched one goal and one assist.
His goal against Columbus in Game 2 of the first round might've been the biggest goal of the playoffs for Real Salt Lake. It was a major confidence booster and the team outplayed the Crew the rest of the match as RSL went on to win in convincing fashion.
He was again one of the catalyst's in RSL's dominant midfield against the Chicago Fire in the Eastern Conference championship.
Without Morales on the field Real Salt Lake's creativity dropped off a bit.
"It was difficult when he went down, and it did take a little bit (to adjust)," said Kreis. "But in the end I think the guys adjusted well and carried on."
Mathis eventually settled into the match and added his own bit of style to the match.
The injury didn't prevent Morales from enjoying the celebration with his teammates whatsoever. He was on the front row of the podium jumping up and down with his teammates as Real Salt Lake celebrated the MLS Cup championship.
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