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Javier Morales puts on influential man-of-the-match display

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Javier Morales put on a display of tactical influence on Sunday afternoon against San Jose Earthquakes, with his attacking and defensive influence helping Real Salt Lake to a 1-0 win.

In this new 4-3-3, Morales is forced to play in a role that starts him sometimes in a deeper position when play develops. He has to stick back and play a defensive role out of possession — not all the time, of course, but frequently enough.

So when we him making deep defensive runs — sometimes as the furthest player back — it's a natural effect of how he's being asked to play. The thing is, though, that you wouldn't expect it to work for just any player. Morales, at this point in his career, is more versatile and dynamic than he was when he entered the league in 2007. He's not just a great but exclusively attacking player. (Which isn't something we'd complain about, honestly.)

Look at the location from which Javier Morales's passes begin — they run the gamut. He's basically everywhere. And while he is getting into defensive positions, he' s not out there as a hard-nosed deep-lying midfielder — not by a long shot.

However you take it, Javier Morales has been deeper than in the past, and he's staying more central than in the past. He'll still often drift to the left in possession — at least more frequently than the right flank — but he's a central player.

The point is, I guess, that Javier Morales has been excellent this season. In four matches, he's scored two goals and has three assists. That's not a bad rate of return.

Charts from Squawka match analysis.