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Should Real Salt Lake protect Javier Morales in the expansion draft? Maybe not.

Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake's playmaker and a long-time contributor to the team, could be the subject of a difficult expansion draft decision. Should he be protected?

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Javier Morales is awesome. He has been one of my favorite players since the days of the Kyle and Javi show. Morales is a key piece for RSL both on the field and inside the locker room. He is coming off one of the best seasons in his career where he scored 9 goals and had 12 assists. Not only did he lead the team in key passes (passes that leads to a shot) with 77, but that was 33 more than the next highest player on team. Morales is one of the most important players that RSL has. And with all this being said, RSL should not protect Morales in the expansion draft.

What? Don't protect Morales? Are you crazy?

It is painful for me to say this, but I truly believe RSL should leave him unprotected. Let me explain why.

First thing is his age. At the start of the 2015 season Morales will be 35 years old. How many attacking midfielders do you know that play at a high level when they are 35 years old? Are there any? Yes, there are. Not many mind you, but there are some players out there that fit these criteria. Could Morales be one of them? Yes, I think he could. He just came off a season where he played the second most minutes on the team. He didn't show many signs of slowing down.

See, you are an idiot. You have to protect Morales.

Let me go on. Per records released by the MLS Players Association, Morales made $300,000 last season. We have been told many times that those numbers aren't really correct. We also know that Morales occupied a DP spot this past season (although we were told it was one of the lowest paid DP's). Whatever his actual salary was, it was a pretty good chunk of change. How many teams out there will want to take a chance on a 35 year old DP? Orlando and NYCFC can renegotiate his contract but I am still not sure they would take him. Would another team want to trade for a Morales? Again that is a possibility but I am not sure if that is a real high probability either.

Okay, I kind of see your point. Morales might not get picked. But what would we do if he was picked?

If Morales did get picked, it would be painful, but not as painful as people might think. Without Morales no longer on the roster we would finally turn the keys of the car over to Luis Gil. Gil has been playing on the outside of the diamond for us for a couple of years now. He does okay at that spot. But any time he has had the chance to play at the top of the diamond he has shined. Not only does Gil shine at the top of the diamond, so does Sebastian Velasquez. In this regard, attacking midfield is our deepest position.

And keep this in mind. We recently found out that teams will receive $50,000 in allocation money for each player picked off their roster. If Morales was picked that would essentially free up $350,000 or more of cap room. Garth (or whoever the GM will be) can do a lot of things with that amount of money.

Do I want Morales to be selected if we left him unprotected? No, I am not saying that. What I am saying that I am willing to take a calculated risk to be able to protect another player. At some point in the near future Morales is going to retire. Is Morales still one of the best players on this team? Yes, he is. Is it more valuable for RSL to be able to protect a young player like Olmes Garcia over Morales at this point in his career? I think it is. Remember, the goal of the protection list is not to protect your best 11 players. It is to protect those players you believe might get selected.