It’s impossible to predict how much is left in the talented legs of Javier Morales, but it will be for FC Dallas for whom he plays next season.
Morales, who turns 37 in 2017, is leaving Real Salt Lake after playing 240 games during the past 10 seasons. FCD confirmed Tuesday that he has signed as a free agent after RSL declined the option on his contract, which would have paid him more than $600,000 next season. As a player 28 or older with at least eight years’ service in the league, Morales was eligible for free agency, which gives him the freedom to negotiate with any MLS team.
“We're excited to bring Javier Morales to Dallas,” club president Dan Hunt said in a video posted by the team. “He is a player that when we looked at the possible free agents, Javier was at the top of our list of players to bring to the FC Dallas family here.
“He's a guy who has tortured us over the years, had a lot of success, had a lot of success in the league if you look at him. He's been a consistent over-2,000-minute player a year.” In each of his eight full seasons not marred by injury Morales has played at least 26 games and exceeded 2,000 minutes.
The native of Buenos Aires is RSL’s all-time leading scorer with 49 goals and its top assist man with 81. He’s been named an MLS All-Star three times. In 2016 he started 23 of 29 games, scored four goals, and registered four assists. After scoring twice in a 3-1 defeat of Chicago Aug. 6 he didn’t produce a goal nor an assists in the last nine regular season games, and in a 3-1 Knockout-Round loss to the Galaxy he was substituted in the 68th minute.
In the short term, he will replace FCD playmaker Mauro Diaz, who suffered a torn Achilles’ in October and will be sidelined until midseason. In the long run, if there is one, he adds creative spark off the bench.
Morales’ experience in the Concacaf Champions league will be of value to FCD, which starts a quarterfinal series against Arabe Unido of Panama Feb. 23. In 20 CCL matches for RSL Morales scored four goals and recorded four assists.
With Morales in the squad, RSL won the 2009 MLS Cup title, reached the finals of the 2010-11 Concacaf Champions League, and reached the 2013 MLS Cup final. In 21 playoff games he scored three goals and registered nine assists.