This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Trailing by a goal at home last month, Real Salt Lake coach Jeff Cassar paced the sideline at Rio Tinto Stadium, searching for fresh blood to help spark a comeback.
The coach ultimately decided he would bring in 21-year-old midfielder Jordan Allen for the veteran Javier Morales.
But just as Allen had finished warming up and walked toward the center line to check in, Morales delivered up an inch perfect pass to a teammate for the equalizer.
Allen was promptly called back to the bench.
That seems to be Morales' M.O. these days: every time you think his tank might finally be running low, the aging Argentine reminds everyone that he's not done yet.
In the past week, Morales was instrumental in Salt Lake capturing six points in three matches, tallying three goals and an assist along the way.
"I'm feeling old," the midfielder joked after his two-goal, one-assist performance in RSL's 3-1 win over the Fire on Saturday. "No, I'm feeling good. It's good when you win."
At 36, Morales is RSL's oldest field player by more than a year. Still, he has logged more than 1,500 minutes on the field (seventh most on the roster) over 20 appearances this season.
"Thirty-six is nothing," goalkeeper Nick Rimando joked Saturday when asked about Morales' continued contributions. "I'm 37."
That's only partly why Rimando expects that kind of quality from the midfielder even at this stage of his career.
"He's been a special player for this team for a while now," Rimando said. "A lot of people don't see what he does off the camera and what he does for this club in the locker room and outside. To have a performance like that today doesn't surprise me one bit."
On Saturday, Morales facilitated RSL's first goal, rolling a pass to striker Olmes Garcia at the top of the 18-yard box. The assist, the 81st of his Major League Soccer career, moved him to 10th place all-time in league history.
But Morales wasn't done there. In the 28th minute, Morales converted a penalty for his third goal of the season. Then, in the 64th minute, Morales offered up a highlight-reel finish, firing from the top of the box, striking the near post and finding the back of the net another example of Morales' superb skill and decision making on the field.
"The last goal, to be honest, my first thought was to hit it with my right," he explained. "But I saw the guy slide tackle, so I cut in. And always when you cut in, the goalkeeper thinks you'll go to the far post, so I tried to kick it to the first one."
That's why Cassar expects Morales to keep going strong.
"He's taken care of his body unbelievably well and his soccer IQ is just off the charts," the RSL coach said. "He recognizes situations in games and where to be. I don't see him slowing down at all. I see him getting smarter, more efficient and taking care of his body and I just love where he's at right now."