The unexpected announcement that Javi would be leaving Salt Lake sent us all into an immediate tailspin, and has left us all surprised, sad, grateful, confused, and a plethora of other emotions that we don’t have time to list.
One thing we can do while we try to wrap our heads around the idea of a Javi-less RSL is enjoy and appreciate everything he’s given us as fans over the last ten years.
It seems appropriate to start with his top 10 goals from 10 years with Real Salt Lake — and trust me, it’s no easy task to pick a top 10 from a catalog of 58 across all competitions.
10. July 13, 2013: at FC Dallas
Morales had a few nutmegs in his career, but this was probably the best. Javi slowly approached Dallas defender Zach Loyd, waited until he made a stab for it and then immediately put the ball between his legs and into the bottom right corner. RSL went on to win this match 3-0.
9. July 18, 2015: vs. Houston Dynamo
Although 2015 ended in disappointment as RSL missed the playoffs, there were plenty of bright spots to take away from the season — including this volley from the Maestro himself just outside the 18-yard box. Tyler Deric went full stretch to try and get a hand on it but it slipped past him, bounced off the post and in. RSL got the 2-0 victory.
8. May 11, 2014: at Houston Dynamo
With the fifth-fastest goal in MLS history, Morales chipped Dynamo ‘keeper Tally Hall from way outside the 18-yard box just 15 seconds into the game. He sent the ball well over Hall’s head and up into the top left corner. RSL went on to win that game 5-2 as Morales netted his first and only hat-trick in his career with Salt Lake.
7. April 20, 2011: at Monterrey
Although we’ll never forget the heartbreaking second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final when RSL couldn’t find the goal they needed to win the title, we should also never forget this 89th-minute goal from Javi to tie the first leg up 2-2. Absolute class in the dying minutes of the game in an incredibly tough place to play.
6. July 24, 2015: vs. Sporting Kansas City
In another highlight from 2015, Morales sliced up Kansas City’s defense with ease as he brought the ball down, dribbled through three defenders, and was able to slot the ball past SKC ‘keeper Tim Melia to open the scoring in a game that RSL would go on to win 2-1.
5. April 5, 2015: at San Jose Earthquakes
Yet another from Javi’s 10 goals across all competitions in 2015, this one came off a rebound from his own free kick. The initial free kick bounces off of SJ defender Victor Bernardez and falls right back to Morales, who hits a screamer off the volley and bends it well out of David Bingham’s reach, off the crossbar and into the net to put RSL up 1-0, which would prove to be the game winner.
Side note: I can’t help but smile when I see Kyle throw his hands up in the air in celebration, well before Javi even gets a foot to it off the rebound.
4. October 4, 2008: vs. New England Revolution
With just his seventh goal of his RSL career, Javi made a serious splash with this world-class volley against New England. It starts when Robbie Russell sends a long ball over the top, which Revs ‘keeper Matt Reis tried to clear with his head outside the box. The ball fell into open space where Morales was able to get to it and send a long-distance first-time shot that found its way just under the crossbar and into the net. Revs defender Michael Parkhurst was able to get a piece of it with his head but not nearly enough to keep it out of the net. The game would end in a 2-2 draw at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
3. March 27, 2010: at San Jose Earthquakes
Out of all nine goals that Morales scored against San Jose in his career, this one strikes me as the prettiest. Javi makes a run up on a bouncing ball from 25-30 yards out and sends it flying into the top-right corner of the net, well out of reach from the outstretched ‘keeper. This shot would be considered world class in any league around the globe. Morales would also notch a second goal as RSL rolled to beat San Jose 3-0.
2. August 30, 2013: vs. Portland Timbers
I had a pretty tough time ranking these top two goals, but the infamous bicycle kick landed itself in the second slot. Joao Plata puts in a perfect corner kick that somehow finds Morales completely unmarked right in front of goal. Javi was able to settle it with his right foot which set himself up perfectly for the bicycle kick, which bounced off the far post and into the goal past a dumbfounded Donovan Ricketts. RSL went on to win this game 4-2.
1. March 26, 2011: vs. LA Galaxy
Coming in at number one, as my personal favorite, is this beauty against the LA Galaxy in 2011. Not only is it a gorgeous shot into the upper 90 from the top of the box, it comes from an RSL throw-in where LA superstar David Beckham is caught standing around and not paying attention.
One second, Morales and Beckham are right next to each other, and the next, Javi takes off toward goal and has the ball before Beckham even realizes that the ball is in play. From a perfectly placed throw by Chris Wingert, Javi is able to get to the ball and one-time volley it up into the top-right corner, well out of LA goalkeeper Josh Saunders’ reach. RSL finished their trouncing of LA in this game with a score of 4-1.