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Javier Morales and the fountain of youth: 34 years old and still improving

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Javier Morales, 34 years old. One of the oldest players in the Real Salt Lake squad.

Javier Morales, apparently the man to discover the fountain of youth.

If you watched him Saturday night against Colorado Rapids, that wouldn’t be your first impression — if you got it at all.

Over 90 minutes, Morales was among the most active players on both sides. There’s an argument for him being the most active overall. Not only because he was the most frequent passer on the night, but because his involvement stretched from behind the center backs, carrying the ball out of defense, to the further forward in attack.

When Real Salt Lake needed pressure on a defender, Morales was there. When more calm play was called for, Morales was there. When Colorado broke, Morales was bursting back to cover; when we broke, he was bursting forward to create. When most of our team looked bereft of energy, he provided a spark.

He may no longer be at his fastest, but he remains every bit as magical as he once did. In fact, he might be more magical now than he was when he arrived.

There’s a reason Jeff Cassar handed him the captain’s armband (or, there’s a reason Morales received it by whatever process they follow): He is as much the heartbeat of this side as any player is.

We no longer wonder what could have been, had he not been the victim of an ankle-breaking tackle on that dark day in April 2011. What could have been is irrelevant, because what we have now — the player Javier Morales has become — is as vital to our fortunes as we could ever have hoped.

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